Join The Cornucopia Institute as we keep you informed via web updates and live tweets from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting online.

We will be sharing the play by play of the meeting on October 25, 26, and 27 below and with our Twitter followers at #NOSB or by simply following our stream. Skip to the coverage of Day Two or Day Three.

For background on issues up for discussion at the meeting, see:

Tuesday, October 25, 2022: Fall NOSB Meeting, Day 1

9:00am PT: Call to Order

Jennifer Tucker, NOP Deputy Administrator: Hello, everyone! I am Jennifer Tucker, Deputy administrator of the National Organic Program.

Welcome to all our national organic standards, boards, members and our audience in the room and online. It is my honor to officially open the fall to 2,022 National Organic Standards Board meeting.

It has been 3 years since we met in person in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is remarkable what we have achieved as a community during that time. For 3 years we have been applauding each other, and our collective work by waving our hands in zoom today to celebrate the fact. We’re all here and to celebrate each other let’s open with a round of in-person applause. Folks online, we do hope that you will join us with continuing the zoom, clapping traditional alongside of us.

It is wonderful to be broadcasting and to have you with us as well, and I can see up on the screen that we have Logan. Good morning, Logan. Everybody wave to Logan all right and so actually it’s helpful to see what the community is seeing at the same time.

So now that we are back in person, Nate, we have a gavel, so let’s go ahead and use it. Do you want to mark our moment of opening here? Very nice.

Okay, so let’s start with some official business this meeting like other meetings of the National Organic Standards Board will be run based on the Federal Advisory Committee act, and the Board’s policy and Procedures manual I will act as a designated Federal officer for all meeting segments. Transcripts for all segments will be posted once completed, and obviously we are broadcasting now let’s take a quick look at the agenda, and then I will welcome and introduce our opening speakers, CDFA Under Secretary Christine Birdsong, and USDA Under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffitt. Then I will introduce members of the NOP team, and I will then turn the floor to Nate Powell-Palm, our Board Chair for Board introductions.

So first, the agenda this morning will include some welcoming talks and report outs, introductions, and a program update with questions and answers with the board. We will break for lunch and then return to begin subcommittee work. We’ll continue subcommittee work through tomorrow along with an update from the organic farming research foundation. That work will continue into Thursday, and then we’ll close with elections, a reflection and visit with some old friends and colleagues, and with a farewell to Rick Greenwood, who starts his last NOSB meeting with us today. Rick, Thank you for all your wisdom and your service.

Now, let’s turn to our welcoming speakers. We are lucky, very lucky today to have 2 very special guests for opening remarks.

Welcoming Address

Jennifer Tucker, NOP Deputy Administrator: First, we will hear from California Department of Food and Agriculture, Under Secretary Christine Birdsong. Under Secretary Birdsong was appointed by Governor Newsom. Previously she was senior Vice President and General Counsel and Director of People and Culture for the Sun Valley Rice Company. She has also served as general counsel for the National Cotton Council of America, Council for the Committee on Agriculture for the United States House of Representatives and Federal Government Affairs Leader for Crop Life America. Birdsong earned a Juris Doctor Degree, from the University of California, Hastings College of Law, and is a University of California at Berkeley Alum. Please join me in welcoming Under Secretary Birdsong.

Christine Birdsong, California Department of Food and Agriculture Under Secretary: Good morning. Thank you and welcome. I want to welcome our board members. Thank you so much for making the trip to Sacramento. It’s so exciting to be together, and in person, like Jenny said, for the first time in 3 years. We have all been able to accomplish actually quite a lot back in the day of zooming. But I think there’s a human chemistry when we gather together that’s energizing, and I think really deepens the work that we do when we’re working together as a team. So, it is great to be with you here again.

I want to also thank the members of the public; our farmers, our certifiers, the businesses and advocates, who are also participating in these various meetings. Over the next few days, public input and engagement are vitally important to policy setting and implementation. Everyone’s expertise, experience and passion for organic agriculture is valued and welcome. Thank you so much for contributing.

I also want to thank the USDA staff who helped organize this event and who really run the day-to-day operations of our National Organic Program. it’s because of your work that the organic seal means something and holds so much value for consumers both here and abroad.

We are honored that you chose California for your first in-person NOSB Meeting again the first in 3 years, I think we can’t say that enough. And it’s particularly appropriate that we’re meeting in our state capital city, where progressive policy continues to create and expand opportunities for all in the space of agriculture and the communities that we serve we are very proud of our state organic program, which has continued to work with industry leaders.

In California we are abundantly proud of our farmers and ranchers, and the nutritious and delicious bounty that they bring to the table for our state, our nation, and even the world. Speaking of our California organic program, I would like to thank employees in the program. Specifically, Maisie Fowler Rigs for helping our marketing program prepare the California organic statistics every year so that we can track the changes and the growth that’s important to our organic sector

This is my segue to pepper you with some exciting numbers. So here you go. For example, California organic sales increased more than 17% from 11.9 billion dollars in 2020 to 13.9 billion dollars in 2021, with 95% of the sales from operations certified by an accredited certifying agent, and, according to the 2021 California Ag Organics report in 2020 California accounted for 36% of all organic production in the United States. Our organic production site acreage was over 2 million acres, and the top 5 counties in terms of overall gross organic sales were Monterey, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, ??.

Now here’s our list of our top 5 commodities by State organic harvested acreage. Number one was beef cattle with over 1 million acres. Number 2 is what we call the all “other” field crops which includes pasture and rangeland. Of course, you’ve got to feed your organic beef something, and number 3 is an interesting one – fallowed. Fallow means, of course you probably already know, that although nothing was being harvested at the time of census, the reported acreage was intended for future organic crops, and that was 75,200 and 97 acres. So, I think we’ll be seeing another leap in organic production ag in coming years. Number 4 was our dairy cows, and they are on 75,000 acres. And then last, but not least, are kind of the “all other” vegetables category, and they were on 59,751 acres.

We at CDFA are very committed to doing our part to uphold the integrity of the organic label. We know that the organic label carries value throughout the entire supply chain from growers all the way to the consumers who make a conscious choice in their purchases. Our state organic program works hard to protect the integrity of organic products sold in California. This past fiscal year they conducted 1,562 inspections, collected 450 samples for pesticide residue detection, enhanced our outreach and education to organic stakeholders through county staff trainings, and attending conferences and workshops with organic farmers throughout the State. They also investigated 133 organic complaints.

Our California State organic program also continued to collaborate with the NOP’s pasture surveillance program by conducting 7 inspections of organic dairies in Sonoma and Humble counties just this past year. These inspections are, of course, done in partnership with our local County Agricultural Commissioners. The Commissioner Inspectors, another large part of California’s involvement with the organic agriculture, is our fertilizing materials inspection program and the organic input material program over the last fiscal year. OIM reviewed and registered 1,245 OIM fertilizers labels obtained 486 samples for lab analysis, and investigated 11 complaints about OIM fertilizer products. They also conducted an investigation of an adulterated OIM, which led to the most significant administrative penalty in the program’s history, and that penalty was 1.8 9 million dollars. Our FMIP environmental program manager, Nick Young, is also the chairman of the Bio Stimulant Committee for the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials. This committee is working towards formal recognition of biosimulants, many of which are organic input materials. This includes the adoption of a universally recognized definition label requirements and a uniform legislative bill that States can utilize for standardization across the US. We’re very hopeful that this work will be finalized by February of next year at the Association of American Plant Food Control Officials Winter Annual conference.

Now, I mentioned earlier that California Lawmakers and Governor Newsom’s administration are active and progressive policies that helps support our farmers, our ranchers, and our local communities. So, before I close, I’d like to share just a few examples of those with you in our office of farm to fork. We’re continuing our farm to school incubator grant program and are working on grant programs like the farm to community food hubs program that will support local food hubs, and the urban Agriculture Grant program, and that will support urban farmers and consumers.

Speaking of farm to fork, another benefit to meeting in Sacramento is that the farm to fork Ethos is particularly strong among our vibrant restaurant scene, which I hope you get a chance to explore while you’re here. CDFA is also continuing with our progressive climate smart initiatives in the office of environmental farming and innovation through grants for our healthy soils program, our State Water efficiency enhancement program, our alternative manure management program, and many more. We are very proud of our CDFA’s team’s dedication and professionalism to ensure the entirety of organic agriculture, and we appreciate the opportunity to participate in this board meeting to hear more about emerging issues and new technologies that may be available to help us advance growth and success in organic production systems.

We again thank everybody involved for your work in supporting the public participatory process.

And finally, before I turn the floor back to Jennifer, I would like to acknowledge you, Jennifer, and your team for the strong partnership and collaboration with California. Thank you. We very much appreciate this close working relationship with our federal partners, and on the importance on the important topic of organic Ag.

And, Jenny, your leadership is being felt across the nation, and I want to thank you for that.

Jennifer Tucker: Thank you so, so much for that, for that talk, and for being here today. I know you had a healthy drive up here, so thank you so much for being with us.

And now we will turn to under Secretary Jenny Lester Moffat. She is our Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. The Under Secretary previously served as Under Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, where she was also Deputy Secretary from 2015 to 2018. Prior to that Jenny spent 10 years as managing a director at Dixon Ridge Farm, her family’s organic walnut farm and processing operation. She also served on the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and worked for American Farmland Trust. Under Secretary Moffat leads the mission area that’s responsible for both the agricultural marketing service (AMS), the agency that holds the National Organic Program and APHIS, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The Under Secretary has been a key leading, envisioning, and implementing Secretary Vilsack’s food systems transformation work, including the organic transition initiative. She’s a former 4H and FFA member and 4 H volunteer. She’s a graduate of Brown University and the California Agricultural Leadership Program. Please join me in welcoming Under Secretary Moffitt.

Jenny Lester Moffitt: Thank you, Jenny, for that warm introduction, and thank you, Chris, for being here today, and for all of that really great information on organic agriculture, the stats on organic agriculture here in California. I just want to take a breath here. It’s really nice as we acknowledge, of course, for the first time in 3 years, to be back here in person as well as in hybrid mode as well, which is incredible. This is an opportunity for more people, more people around the country and around the world to really be able to engage in the National Organic Standards Boards process that has taken a substantial amount of work, and I just want to recognize the NOP staff for the work that they’ve done to make this happen. Thank you all for the work that you’ve done is really a pleasure to be here to be in person and to be at the National Organic Sanders Board meeting that is happening here in California, as Jenny mentioned. I’m proud that my home state continues to be a leader in organic production, and I’m proud to see so many faces here, very familiar faces in the organic industries.

2022 is really a year of a lot of celebration for the organic community. At our meeting, and last April we celebrated the public private partnership by recognizing the twentieth anniversary of the very first class of accredited certifiers, and the first official use of the USDA organic label. 20 years of that green organic seal—that’s incredible. I’d like to recognize all of the organic farmers certifiers inspectors that are here in the room and joining us online today. Thank you for your work, supporting and growing the organic market.

This year also marks the thirtieth anniversary of the National Organic Standards Board. This morning, I want to take a few minutes to recognize the work of all of the volunteer Board members who’ve been part of this really important institution. You represent all parts of the organic community, and collectively donate hundreds of hours of your time and experience for continual improvement in our community and the market. As Christie mentioned, this robust engagement that happens every year, and throughout the year or twice a year, and throughout the year is very important to informing the work of the National Organic Program. It’s very important to the work of organic across the country and around the world.

So, we have many board alumni, who are actively engaged, and are here with us today. If you wouldn’t mind anyone who has served on the board in the past. If you wouldn’t mind standing up to be recognized for all of your really hard work; thank you. Thank you for your work, your leadership, your expertise, and your willingness to really serve the organic industry. Since our last in-person meeting, we’ve had a number of members who have completed their service on the board, and I want to take an opportunity to personally acknowledge them. I believe 4 of you guys are here in the room, so please stand what I call your name.

The first one is Asa Bradman. Asa has served as the environmental protection in resource conservation, representative from 2017 to 2022. As a professor of public health at the University of California. He served and chaired the handling and crop subcommittee. Thank you for your service.

Next, Jesse Buie. Jesse served as the organic producer from 2016 to 2020. Jesse served as the Board’s Secretary, as well as a member of several subcommittees. He runs Ole Brook Organics in Jackson, Mississippi, which produces vegetables and melons. Major Buie is also a veteran of the United States Army Medical Service Corps. Thank you for your service on NOSB, as well as in the army.

Steve, Ela. Steve also served in an organic producer seat from 2017 to 2022. Steve chaired the Board, as well as the Crop and Handling Subcommittee for 2 years. He’s a fourth generation Western Colorado fruit grower, who started the organic certification in 1994 on his farm. Ela Family farm sells peaches, pears, apples, plums, heirloom tomatoes, and artisanal produce goods made from their own commercial kitchen, via the farmers markets, CSAs, restaurants and wholesale. Thank you so much for your service.

Scott, Rice. Scott served in the certifying agent seat on the Board, from 2016 to 2020. Scott works for the Washington State Department of Agriculture in Olympia, Washington, ss the external Affairs Coordinator, and served as the NOSB Vice Chair and Secretary, and also chaired the CACS Subcommittee. Thank you for your service.

I’m really glad that you guys have been able to make it here to this meeting in Sacramento this week. We also have a handful of former Board members, who are also able to join us virtually, hopefully. Sue Baird served as our Public Interest and Consumer Industry representative from 2017 to 2022. Sue is the Executive Director of the Missouri Organic Association, known as Mid-America Organic Association, which educates consumers and farmers about the knowledge and advances of organic food and production practices

Dr. David Mortensen. Dr. Mortensen has served as the Scientist Seat from the Board, from 2017 to 2022. Dave is a professor at the University of New Hampshire, where he is the chair of the Department of Agriculture, Nutrition and Food Systems. He holds a PHD in crop science and soil physics.

Thank you both for your service.

Emily Oakley served as an organic producer seat from 2016 to 2021. Emily served on several committees on her Board tenure, and she owns and operates, 3 Springs Farms in Oklahoma, a 20-acre certified organic vegetable farm. Thank you, Emily, for your service.

And finally, but not least, Dan Seitz served in the Public Interest/Consumer Interest seat from 2016 to 2021. Dan is Executive Director for the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education. Thank you, also, for your service.

Growing up on my family’s organic farm, that I later ran, I know the challenges and huge rewards of organic farming. I also know what it takes to lead and make a lasting difference, and where USDA can play a role in supporting farmers as they bring product to market together. We’re really building a growing and accessible and diverse organic sector across the Board.

I’m going to give a little bit of background on some of the work that we have been doing at USDA in the past 2 years or year and a half under the Vilsack Administration, and the Biden-Harris Administration. I hope you all have heard the announcement that Secretary Vilsack made in August, announcing 300 million dollars for the Organic Transition Initiative. This is the largest investment ever that USDA has made, and one time for organics, and certainly for organic transition. We’re really excited about this, and I know from meeting and talking with many of you guys that there is an enthusiasm across the board what’s really important.

When I worked at my family’s farm I learned a lot of lessons, and one of the big lessons I learned is that it’s a It takes a holistic approach to problem solving and to approaching any sort of thing that we tackle, whether that’s on the farm and approaching soil health and pest management, or whether that is in policy making. Taking the holistic approach, knowing that if we really want to grow and advance organic farming, if we want to support the transition to organic farming, it must be not just at the production level and the marketing level but everything in between. And, so, that’s where this 300 million dollars has many different components, everything from organic farmer transition support, mentorship technical assistance marketing assistance, as well as direct on farm conservation support through NRCS, insurance support through the recent TRMA (?), and then finally market development support, so that we’re not just bringing our transitioning organic farmers into certified organic, but they have a really vibrant marketplace to sell into.

Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to visit and to join a group at Javier Zamara’s farm. Thank you so much for hosting us yesterday, along with Representative Panetta and a really robust group of folks in the California area who are starting to work on development and enhancement of the Transition to Organic Partnership Program, one of the key pillars of the Organic Transition Initiative. And what I heard there in that conversation was the importance of community, the importance of partnership, and the importance of all of the different layers, the beautiful layers that we have in agriculture in the organic community coming together. Each person bringing different experiences, difference, perspective, different wealth of knowledge together to support the community of agriculture, particularly those who are interested in becoming organic farmers or are already in the process of transitioning to organic. We saw many nonprofit organizations who have a long history of working with organic farmers. At the table we saw farmers who, like Javier and others who are experienced organic farmers, are excited about mentoring and really being part of this initiative to really support transitioning organic farmers. And then we heard also from new and aspiring organic farmers, farmers who are getting ready to get their start in their career in organic, or are looking to convert to organic. And I think that was really interesting. And a beautiful mix of the beauty of our agriculture and organic community coming together really to solve many of the challenges that organic farmers face when they’re looking to convert to organic.

I know, back in the 80s, when my family was looking to convert, my dad, too, benefited from having mentors benefited from having technical assistance, and benefitted from being a part of and identifying new markets. And all of those people coming together to really take a much more community-based approach farmer.

The Farmer Mentorship is key, supplementing that with the technical assistance and all of the wealth of resources that are there, the National Organic Program is really excited to invest a 100 million dollars in the Transition to Organic Partnership Program. There are 6 regions around the country. I think Jenny in your presentation you’re going to have a slide that shows just the beginning of the wealth and the diversity of organizations.

What is really key is that everyone plays a really important role, whether that is folks who are really experiencing the agronomy and conservation practices, whether there are folks that are really experienced and how to bring organic farmers and to markets and different and dynamic ways, whether that is the all very, very important organic system plan and developing that and navigating all of that to identifying inputs. Whether that’s our organic seeds or fertilizers, or what have you, all of these things can be really challenging for a new transitioning farmer to navigate. And so, we’re really building a community to support that navigation process. We were excited to announce the Transition to Organic Partnership.

We were decided to announce the beginning of the partners in that, and you’ll see some more of those partners. I know many of you guys in the room are already partners. And so, I want to thank you guys for being part of this really incredible effort. You’ve been part of this incredible effort for many, many, many years, and we’re excited to be able to really invest in the work so that we can grow it and expand it and have more organic farmers across the country, particularly farmers who are small, who are underserved, who haven’t had the resources to convert to organic. We’re really excited to be able to bring resources and support, to make sure that we have a much broader diverse and equitable organic system across the country.

Also, just want to make sure that we’re also talking about market development. We can’t just look at how we’re transitioning farmers. We also need to make sure those farmers have a great, flourishing market. So, November 15, we’ll be doing a listening session for the Transition to Organic Program Pinpointed Market Development Initiative. We’ll send out more information. I’m sure that you all are getting the Organic Insider, and you’ll get that information through the Organic Insider, if you haven’t already.

I think what I would want to close with are a few final words about just organic resilience, organic trust, and organic vibrancy. We have been, and certainly it’s been a priority in the Biden-Harris Administration under Secretary Vilsack, to really end with, of course, in an absolute priority as well of the national organic program to continue the robust rule.

Where should we go? Organic is vibrant. Organic as always constantly changing. That’s the beauty of organic and rulemaking is an important part about that. We have the strengthening the organic enforcement rule, and that is in its final legs. Hopefully, we get that across the finish line very, very soon. It is at the Office of Management and Budget right now, and we hope to be able to get that implemented right away. That is such an important one to make sure that across the board that we have very strong organic standards, that we have enforcement practices that were closing some of the gaps on imports and making sure that we are really continuing that trusted label that everyone depends on.

At the same time, we’re also working very hard on the organic lifestyle poultry standards. Actually, at this point, you guys are probably doing the most work as we’re in the comment period. Right now. we are really looking forward to hearing your comments. We are committed to working quickly, to make sure that we can review those comments and analyze them, and then move forward with a final rule, so that we can get this implemented. I know this is a long overdue of rule that you guys have been wanting to see for some time. We share that, and we are looking forward to getting that implemented.

So, I just want to thank you guys for your participation in organic. I know where there’s going to be a conversation about climates, more agriculture, organic farmers, as you guys know, I know on our own farm there is a focus on natural resource, conservation, soil and water quality, biodiversity cycling our resources. Organic farmers are really building resilience across agriculture, not just in organic farming, which is in up itself incredible, but organic farming around the world.

Organic sales, of course, are continuing to flourish, and I hope to see that grow under the Organic Transition Initiative. And then finally, organic label. That label that consumers have now trusted and know and depend on, and know that there are really strong standards behind that green organic seal for the past 20 years are so important. We stand by that seal, and all of the value that it provides to farmers and ranchers. I think Congressman Panetta said it so well it’s not just a seal. It really stands for a robust set of production practices, and so much more in that seal. So, thank you all for participating here in person it’s nice to see your faces, and thank you also for participating virtually with your dedication and opportunities such as this one to engage and make our connections we are all moving in the right direction. Thank you.

NOP Introductions

Jenny Tucker: Thank you. Okay. And so, I want to close this section by thanking the National Organic Program team. So first, let’s all thank Michelle Arsenal, our Advisory Board Specialist. Michelle is so devoted! Clearly you can see from the room that this week Michelle is so devoted to keeping us going. I’ve now worked with Michelle for more than 11 years now, and navigating this re-entry back into being in person. So, Michelle: Thank you so much.

We also have a number of team members from Standards and from the broader NOP team to both support this meeting and to learn with us and with you today. So, I’m going to ask them to stand and wave when I call you, and we don’t need to clap after each one of them; we will just hold it until we have the full group read. We’ve got standards, and Director Aaron Healy. Devin Patello, our Assistant Director. Jared Clark, our National List Manager. Andrea Holm is kind of running the Zoom show and a myriad of other things today. Then we have Penny Zuck, and my deputy, Dave Glasgow. They’re a wonderful team.

Now, I turn the mic over to Nate Powell-Palm, our Board Chair. He’ll be introducing our having Board members and having them introduce themselves. All of these individuals devote hours and hours of volunteer time to serve the organic community. This is the first time many of them are meeting each other, face-to-face, and yet they have just done a fabulous job over the last few years. We’re going to give the full board a big round of thanks and appreciation. So, Nate, it is great to see you in person. I thank you for all your terrific work. I thank you in advance for a great meeting.

NOSB Introductions

Nate Powell-Palm: We’re going to go around and I would like everyone to say your name where you’re from, what seat you hold, and what has, (and I know Jerry told me no icebreakers, but I’m going to get a little one in here) what has what has been your most exciting part of the organic industry in your world?

Jerry D’Amore: Good morning, all. My name is Jerry D’Amore, and I live in northern Monterey County, here in California. I’m in my third year as a Handler on the Board. My life has been heavily influenced by having spent 25 years living in foreign countries. I have been involved in agriculture for 47 plus years, starting in Saudi, Arabia, where I built and operated hydroponic facilities that grew 14 varieties of fruits and vegetables, using both low profile nft (?) and buying (?) crop systems. Directly thereafter I moved to Virginia, and then constructed my own hydroponic facility that specialized in lettuces. Within a year of that we opened up a glass greenhouse and produced tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers. In the same year, I founded and ran the Northern Virginia Hydroponic co-op in 1991. I joined Chaquita Banana Company and move with my family to Izmir, Turkey, as a regional manager for the Black Sea ports. I opened up Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Russia to what was referred to as the forbidden fruit bananas. I also managed and distributed the distribution process within Turkey. From 99 onward, I had the great fortune to work for Driscoll’s, Dole, among others, and here I got to participate in the Go-to-market side of our great business. It’s an honor to be on the Board. Thank you.

Javier Zamora: Good morning, all. My name is Javier Zamora, and I represent the farmer seat out of our beautiful Watsonville, CA. It’s truly an honor for me to be part of this Board, seeing everyone in person, and how elegant and how beautiful you all look, and how nice you are to me. So, again, it’s truly an honor for me to represent the small farmer community that I come from. I’m a strawberry, raspberry, and blackberry grower out of Watsonville, CA. I always say that I’m a blessed individual. I’m a first-generation farmer born and raised in Mexico, came to the States when I was 20 years old, come from farming parents, not necessarily farm owners. I am the first generation here, and hopefully I can teach others, including my kids, to continue farming in organically way. So, thank you all for being here, and thank you for allowing me to be part of this board. That represents and has a lot to do with our livelihood and the farming communities that I represent.

Allison Johnson: Hi, everyone, I’m Allison Johnson, and I’m in the Public Interest/Consumer Interest seat, based in Oakland, CA. I’m honored and humbled to be here with you all. I’m an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, and we work to safeguard the earth, its people, its plants and animals, and its natural systems, on which life depends, so organic as a natural fit for us. I’ll use your icebreaker as a plug. NRDC is getting ready to release a report in partnership with the Swete Center at Arizona State University and CA’s for Pesticide Reform that talks about climate health and economic benefits about organic aggregate culture and comes along with a list of policy recommendations, top of which is to support organic transition. So, I’m really excited to see us already on our way. I’m looking forward to being here with you all.

Brian Caldwell: Morning, everybody. I’m Brian Caldwell. I’m in my second year, and a Comsumer and Public Interest seat here on the Board. I have a small farm in central New York State where we raise apples, chestnuts, hazel nuts, pears, and we’ve been certified organic since 1986. I think that one of my most exciting moments was the first year that we actually had a saleable organic apple crop. Back in the 80s they used to say it was impossible, and it was not impossible, which is a really good thing. And so that was an exciting moment and I just want to say how honored I am to be with this Board of really amazing people here. It’s just a wonderful experience for me. So, thank you all.

Dilip Nandwani: Good morning. I am Dilip Nandwani, and I started on the NOSB Board early this year in January. I’m on the Scientist seat. I work for Tennessee State University as a professor of organic agriculture fully dedicated faculty to this program and I do research extension and teaching in Nashville, TN. Serving an 1890 institution like TSU, working with other minorities serving institutions, it’s a great pleasure here on the Board. It’s an honor. I have organic philosophy and it’s my great interest not only as a job as a scientist, as a researcher, but as a teacher of organic principles of organic agriculture classes to undergrad and grad students. I did not realize that when I started teaching the first courses on the principles of organic ag, and I was telling that first class about the history of organic ag, and saying that the NOSB came into 2002 Federal register for organic regulations in standards, I did not realize that I was going to serve on that Board one day. It’s a great honor and pleasure serving on the board.

Rick Greenwood: I’m Rick Greenwood. I’m finishing my fifth year on the Board. I’m in the Environmental Protection seat. I’m a certified organic avocado farmer from the San Diego County area and have been for about 15 years. My background is in public health and epidemiology, so spending a lot of time on COVID recently. Beyond that, I’ve been pleased to serve on the Board. I’ve chaired the Crop Committee for two years, and it really is an amazing Board. I think what I’ve always enjoyed is the fact that we have diversity of opinion, and we can usually come together, but everyone does it in a very thoughtful way. And I think to me it’s always one of the high points of the Americas that we can meet as volunteers and accomplish so many things. So, I’ve just been pleased to be on the Board, and it is a lot of work. When somebody tells you it’s a lot of work to get on the Board, I was thinking, “Yeah, not really.” And it turns out it is! So, again, all of the people that are on the Board, I really appreciate all of the hard work that you put in. Thank you.

Amy Bruch: Good morning, everyone. I’m Amy Bruch. I’m a six-generation farmer, and really honored to be here today. I’m in my second year on the Board, and I serve in the Farmer seat. I have an Ag engineering background from Iowa State University, and I have about 2 decades of experience in production agriculture, consulting, helping fellow farmers transition to organic, and agra business. I lived in Brazil for 6 years and farmed there with my husband, and I’ve done many different egg projects across several different continents and countries, including South America, Africa, and Europe. With the passing of my father and the desire to keep the family farm in my family, my primary and favorite job is now that of a farmer. My family farms are located in East Central Nebraska, where a 100% organic or transitioning to organic. We’re 100% irrigated as well, and we primarily grow crops such as food-grade corn for tortillas and chips, food-grade soybeans for the tofu market, and a variety of different small grains pulses, and oil seeds. Going back to your icebreaker, Nate, I just can’t say enough about the Organic Program. It’s just an honor to be able to farm this way. It’s a very challenging method of farming, but I really think it pushes us farmers to be more creative and innovative, and I’m excited. My son is one today, so we might have to sing him Happy Birthday later. He’s the next generation farmer, and I’m just excited for what’s going to be in store for him with this program. Thank you.

Kyla Smith: My name is Kyla Smith. I am from Pennsylvania. I serve in the Certifier seat. This is the end of my second year, as well. I also serve as Secretary and Chair of the Handling Subcommittee. My day Job is working for PCO. We are a USDA accredited certifier that certifies mostly in the Mid Atlantic, but nationwide. I’ve been in certification for 20 years. I’ve done most of the jobs that it takes to get a farmer or food processor through the certification program, including inspector, reviewer, and policy work. I started my week coming here and watching the Phillies get into the World series, so that was super exciting, and I was just so grateful to get to meet all of my fellow Board members in person. It’s like your lost family that you don’t know that you love so much until you get to meet them all in person. Serving on this Board has been one of my greatest career accomplishments, and the other things I’ll add is I’m just super excited for the TOP Program, and PCO is honored to be one of the partners in that program. We can’t wait to see what comes out of it. It’s going to be awesome.

Mindee Jeffrey: Hello, my name is Mindee Jeffrey. I’m serving in the Retailer seat. I’m also serving as the Vice Chair this year, and it’s been a pleasure to work with this group and with the program. I appreciate everyone’s hard work. I also get to make compost, so I’m having a lot of fun learning about what’s happening on the farm at Good Earth. One of the Good Earth owners also has a farm, so that was my pandemic silver lining. For me, this is the finest example of democracy in America, and that is what I love about this community and about this Board.

Logan Petrey: I’m Logan Petrey, and I’m 8-and-a-half months pregnant, if you didn’t see that. I really appreciate all of you allowing me to be here, but also there at the same time. Apparently, Aimee and I are the first pregnant women that have been on the Board, and so I guess new protocols are coming along. I’m honored to be here, and it’s exciting, although I am jealous…it looks really fun to be there in person. I’m in the Farmer seat, and I’m in my second year. I’m a Farm Manager for Grimway, and I manage the southeast farm. We’re a little bit smaller than CA, but we’re getting bigger, and I will say that’s probably the most exciting part for me. Even though there’s a lot going on nationally with organics, and the program’s advancing, and that’s great. It is neat to see organics work well in programs where people didn’t think it would work. I know there is a lot of potential for the program to expand and it’s fun here where we didn’t have a lot of people doing it. Even conventional farmers are taking up things that we’re doing here because it’s a better, more sustainable way to grow. So, that’s neat, and I enjoy watching that it is developing more. I wish I could see you guys in person, but thank you for letting me be here.

Nate Powell-Palm: We decided we’re going to come get you in Atlanta in the springtime. I’m going to exercise chair’s prerogative and go last. So, Kim, if you’ll go next…

Kim Huseman: Good morning, everybody. My name is Kimberly Huseman, and I sit in the Handler seat. I have been with Pilgrims for the past eight years. I grew up on a large farming and ranching operation in Wyoming, where it does take a larger operation to be able to house 300 cattle, a significant amount of range land, coupled with both row crops and forage. We grew alfalfa, as well. I followed the FFA and 4H chain, I guess, going through my college career, ending with a degree in ag business and economics. From there I worked in the cattle feed industry, and then joined Pilgrims 8 years ago. I have been part of the development of the organic program of producing chickens for Pilgrims. I head up the origin of grains, oil seeds, any of the macro ingredients that feed the birds. I’m honored to be a part of this Board, a champion for the industry. Hearing the voices and seeing the faces of all of the individuals that make this program success is very humbling. I chair the Livestock Subcommittee, even though I’m in the Handlers seat. My background in the livestock sector has been beneficial and very rewarding in that space.

Liz Graznak: Good morning. My name is Liz Graznak. I own, along with my wife, Happy Hollow Farm, a very small, very diversified, organic vegetable and fruit farm in Central Missouri. I’m definitely a first-generation farmer in my twelfth year of farming full time, and my day job is anything from pulling weeds in the carrots to a broken piece of machinery, harvesting a beautiful head of lettuce, and all of the things in between that it takes to grow vegetables. I’m really honored to be here, and especially to represent the many, many small-scale producers that I know across the country. There are lots of us out there that are trying to make a go at farming as new generation farmers. So, I’m really glad to be representing those folks.

Wood Turner: I’m Wood Turner. I’m in my third year on the Board, and I’m in an Environmental Protection and Resource Conservation seat. I’m am with Ag Capital. We are focused on bringing responsible scale and food access through organic production. Specifically, we grow blueberries and organic table grapes. I’ve been with AC for about 8 years. Before that, I had the great honor of being with Stonyfield Farm for many years. I’m really pleased to be a part of this Board. I’ve spent 30 years of my career with just a laser focus on environmental conservation, biodiversity protection, and climate solutions, and it’s all I ever wanted to do. It’s all I ever intend to do. And I feel like this community in this Board is a great opportunity to sort of think about all these issues in a very interconnected context, and I think for me that’s what’s so special about this community is how organic really represents interconnectedness of things. It’s all about systems, design systems, management systems approaches, and I think we do that every day. I’m an environmental designer and planner by training. My grandfather sold Alice Chalmers tractors in East North Carolina, where I grew up, and I am in the process of trying to transition some land of his to organic, which I something that I’m really excited about and hopeful for the future. So, I’m sure I wanted to say 10 other things, but that’ll do it for now. Thanks.

Carolyn Dimitri: Hello, everyone. I’m am Carolyn Dimitri. As everyone was talking, I thought, what interesting backgrounds we have, and I will say that I am not from a farm family. I came into my work on organic as a consumer before the National Organic Program existed. I’m an applied economist by training, and my first professional job was actually at USDA’s Economic Research Service. And when I was hired, the very first thing they told me was under no circumstances should you work on organic because we have too many resources already allocated to organic. I’m a bit of a rebel, so I took that as a challenge, and I quickly developed a rather robust real research program on organic. I’m currently a faculty member at New York University, where I teach classes on the food system, and I have a what I consider a robust research agenda on organic food systems. I have a paper that’s in press now that looks at the organic dairy industry over the past 30 years, and we look at financial indicators to show profitability, and how it changed in the different regions of the country. It also looks at how the feeding practices changed over that time period. When it’s finally released, I will definitely send it along to everyone because I think it’s very relevant to the kind of work we do here. And this is, I like to be a little bit nerdy, because I feel like among all of the farmers, it’s the one thing I can claim is a little bit of nerdiness. So recently, I read this really interesting paper on one of the European experts on organic, and in it she says organic was created by farmers. But as markets developed, there became this need for regulations to regulate it. But the regulators should always remember that organic is really owed by the farmers. For me, being on this Board is king of like the living embodiment of that phrase, that the scholar stated. It is an honor to serve with everyone on this Board. Thank you.

Nate Powell-Palm: Thank you for humoring me, everyone. I think that in opening this meeting today, we talk a lot about resilience and why organic is more resilient and all the different technical agronomy reasons that we can claim a more resilient growing system. But I think the greatest evidence of that resiliency was when we all got off an elevator last night, and after three years of looking at each oher in little boxes, we squealed with delight at each other’s faces and hugged each other and realized that the work we’ve been doing for 3 years now virtually was so worth it. We still were able to create these connections around something we so value and so love. And I think that is really unique to our industry and to our community.

I want to thank you all very much. A couple of shoutouts as we get started. So, we had a pandemic, you might have heard, and we on the board had our own resident CDC in the form of Rick Greenwood, who we could say to, “So, Rich, what’s really going on? What’s the good news? What should we do here?” And he was always there to provide a very sensible, level-headed answer.

Today is Beckham Brooks first birthday, and I think when we talk about that what this community gives to keep everything going, Amy giving birth one week after our last meeting, being here and not able to be with her baby on his first birthday is the kind of passion that we all bring, and I am so grateful because it is a sacrifice. We all have other things to do, and it is a sacrifice and I’m so grateful for everyone being here and giving to much to take this community what it is. I have a lot of feels.

I’m Nate Powell-Palm, and I’m a grain farmer and cattle rancher based out of Montana. When I think about the worries I had being a gay kid growing up in Montana, and I didn’t know if I’d ever be able to farm, and how that opportunity to realize the life, the career, the passion that I so love was only possible because of this community… I think when we look around, and we think about the hard work that goes into these very nuanced and complicated discussions around materials or pasture practices, and we have, I think, a really awesome opportunity to pat ourselves on the back and say that for a lot of us you all have organically created a home, and I can’t thank you enough for that.

And so, as we all gather back together today, I think the greatest thing that I came to realize was that this community has done so much more than just get pesticides out of our food. It’s given us the opportunity for so much love and consideration, and truly a caring community to be a part of, as we do this hard work together. Thank you.

I promise I won’t lose it anymore so let’s get down to business folks. We’ve got a really exciting agenda for you chock full of interesting things, but first, we wanted to acknowledge the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards is in comment right now, and with that we have an imperfect method as a Board communicating that we want to communicate with the Under Secretary our full-throated support on getting this thing done and done quickly.

The National Organic Standards Board affirms the position that USDA needs to finalize the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) rule to clarify the expectations for animal care in organic livestock production. Previously characterized as the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rulemaking, the Board has consistently supported action to establish clear requirements for space, density, outdoor access and general animal care provisions for avian and mammalian species. USDA issued the OLPS proposed rule on August 9, 2022, seeking public comment and is correct in asserting both the statutory authority and the conditions of market failure that necessitate action. This federal rulemaking is essential to alleviate instances of competitive harm among market participants and to ensure alignment with consumer expectations of organic production.

Therefore, be it resolved that the National Organic Standards Board—as USDA’s Federal Advisory Board on organic issues and representing organic farmers, ranchers, processors, retailers, and consumers—urges the Secretary to finalize the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards rule expeditiously, to strengthen organic animal health and welfare standards, protect communities and the environment, improve consistency, better meet consumer expectations, and address market failures.

Motion to accept the Resolution & seconded: Passed by unanimous vote of 15:0.

Mindee Jeffrey: Thank you, Nate. I just wanted to take this opportunity to presence the good in the tradition that raised me. I’m given to understand that for individual and community health it’s really important that we take time to receive the pulse back of the goodness of what we are, in the work that we do in the World, and in that light. I’d like you all to please, today, and as we make our way through this week, take the time to rest, as if you are drinking the best cup of water of your life, in the goodness of what we are, and what we are accomplishing in this world. So, I know very clearly that I am grateful to all the work that has gone into this community. Having had the opportunity to be challenged constantly for 15 years by an organic originator, I’m here, and for that, I’m grateful, and the pollinators are grateful, and water is grateful, and our children’s children are grateful for the work of this community. So, in that light, as we make our way through this work this week, please do also rest in the goodness of what we are.

Nate Powell-Palm: Thank you. We will then move to the Secretary’s Report with Kyla Smith.

Secretary’s report

Kyla Smith: Board members, you all received the minutes from the April 2022 meeting. Does anyone have any corrections, or do you accept the minutes as they were received? I did have one correction. There was a typo in the second paragraph: 2022 should be 2021. So, with that, any other corrections or concerns seeing no others, we accept the April 2022 minutes with the one correction. Thank you.

NOSB report

USDA/AMS/National Organic Program Update

Jenny Tucker: Welcome back. We’re doing very well both in terms of process and time. It’s really nice to see folks really connecting again in the real world. And so now we are going to turn to a program update. An update from USDA AMS…

The full NOP update is online: Fall 2022 NOP Update is in the Organic Integrity Learning Center (OILC) called the NOP Presentations Course. This provides an overview of the activities across the NOP, presented by the NOP team.

The Organic Transition Initiative

The Organic Transition Initiative ($300mil) includes:

  • Transition to Organic Partnership Program ($100mil): includes farmer-to-farmer mentoring, technical assistance, community development, workforce development, and data and reporting.
  • Direct Support: Conservation and Crop Insurance ($100mil): Conservation support for transitioning farmers (NRCS), crop insurance assistance for transitional organic rowers (RMA).
  • Pinpointed Organic Market Development (up to $100mil): Support Innovation by building organic supply chains in targeted markets, and listening session (join us on November 15th!)

So, first it used to be in the before times that we would do a 45 min update here at the meeting from the program as we went into a virtual environment, we started recording the NOP update and putting it online in advance of the meeting, and we decided to continue that. And so actually, the full NOP update is online it was posted last week. And it’s in the organic insider that we sent out as a reminder for this meeting, and we did that to flip the conversation. So, it was less time with us talking at you, and more time of us talking with you and each other. That leaves a longer time for questions and answers from the board. So, I do encourage you if you haven’t yet seen it to go to the full NOP Update. It is in the Organic Integrity Learning Center, which, by the way, now has more than 9,000 users. So, not bad for a system that didn’t exist you know 5 or 6 years ago to 9,000 active users in the learning center, and if you subscribe to the NOP presentations, course it is at the top of that course. Okay, it provides an overview of activities across the NOP presented by everybody on the NOP team.

Goal Areas for NOP Work

Okay, I wanted to open with a look at our updated goal areas. Here are the areas of emphasis for the program. The first is growing and developing the organic sector through transition, initiatives and technical assistance. And I want to highlight that this is a new goal area for us, and it is made possible because of the Organic Transition Initiative and the Transition to Organic Partnership Program. And so, we are honored to implement TOPP at the program level. And it did lead to an introduction of what is ultimately a new goal area for us in the program.

Second, we are continuing to develop and implement organic standards. You’ve heard a lot about standard so far. I’ll talk a little bit more about that in a couple of minutes through open and transparent and collaborative processes.

Third, we are protecting organic integrity through strong oversight systems.

Fourth, we’re protecting organic integrity through robust enforcement.

And so, we talked a lot about should we really have 2 goal areas that say protect organic integrity? We decided, yes, that organic integrity from farm to table, consumer trust, the organic label is our vision and so having 2 goal areas that relate to organic integrity is important, and there’s a distinction here. Strong oversight systems are the continuous improvement structures like accreditation and surveillance, and international agreements, and all of the things that we do to implement the structures that help manage control systems worldwide, where enforcement is really about catching the bad guys, and both are equally important.

So, let’s talk about that first goal area you’ve already heard a bit about the Organic Transition Initiative, and the impact that is already having and its opening steps of bringing people together. I just want to walk through the 3 components of OTI. So again, we all have to learn new acronyms here. You’ve already heard about the Transition to Organic Partnership Program. The areas of emphasis there are the farmer to farmer, mentoring, technical assistance, community development, workforce development. And so, that will also embrace the work that has happened on human capital over the last year as well as data and reporting so that we really understand the impact that we’re having at different levels of the system.

A second part of OTI is in direct support through conservation and crop insurance. This is another 100 million. This is conservation support for transitioning farmers. So, this is over at NRCA and our CS is already posted a draft organic practice standard that relates to this program.

And then there’s also the crop insurance assistance for transitioning organic growers from RMA, the Risk Management Agency. And then the third piece is the pinpointed organic market development. So, a lot of discussion on that at the meeting, so far that will support innovation by building organic supply chains and very targeted markets. And so, as the Undersecretary mentioned, there is a listening session. On November the fifteenth, you can sign up for it online to have your voice heard on your ideas related to that program.

Let’s take a closer look and kind of we’re incremental look at each piece of the TOPP program.

So the transition to organic partnership program as the Undersecretary mentioned, there are 6 regions, and I want to show them to everyone to give you an idea of what we are talking about here. Here are the 5 areas that the regions will be working on, and the orange lines delineate the breaks between the states. I want to explain how the regions were kind of developed. What we were looking to do was to group in regions the states that already have a heavy organic representation. So those that are dark green states, that means there are a lot of organic farms and businesses. In CA, as you can see, is the darkest state in terms of the count of certified operations. A number of other dark states meaning they have a lot of organic businesses. The very light states do not. Those are the states that right now are the most underrepresented in organic. And so we built the region so that there is in general a mix of high representation of organic with states that are perhaps underserved or just do not have as high an organic count, because when we are thinking about mentoring and mentor pairing and making sure we’re getting good coverage across the United States, we want to make sure that we’re touching all the states with organized entities that can bring together both well represented and under represented states. So, that’s how the 6 regions are established that’s what the 6 regions look like.

The Undersecretary also mentioned the fact that we are building partnerships across the country, and we’re at the beginning conversation of building those partnership. Because of the robustness of the organic community and the existing kind of collaborations that already exist in the community, those opening conversations ultimately involve a lot of organizations and so, boom, there we go.

So, this is also a look at the initial organizations that are helping to establish the top partnership network across the country as of early this week, and new partners are joining the conversation every day. And so this again shows those regions that I just reviewed, but it also shows some of the partners that are already involved in how to build this network.

So, the Undersecretary mentioned the visit that she did in the Southwest area yesterday, and a lot of folks I think, on the screen were in that session. Those conversations are happening across the country as we build the network.

We also want to stay very attentive to the groups that are not yet here. Those are the underserved groups we want to reach out to, including the BIPOC populations, traditionally underserved groups that have not been at the organic table. It takes time to build those relationships. So, they’re not on our map quite yet, because we’re starting and building those conversations over time. Our goal is—I’m a big fan of agile project management, which means you build something, and then you learn, and then you build something else that grows on it. And so this map will continue to grow over time, as we continue to add voices from across the country into these partnerships. And that’s pretty cool, right? That there are this many partners that are interested in helping to build this collaborative process, who are already kind of joining hands across the country.

I would like to kind of acknowledge all the partners that we have both in the room and online. Can we just give them a hand? A lot of work to get us here. That is an overview of where we are. Our next steps are for each of these regions to really stand up so that they can start providing services to transitioning farmers who are ready to start, or to existing farmers that want to expand their organic acreage or want some technical assistance in certain areas. We do want to emphasize that we are really looking for new organic farmers, but we’re also supporting existing organic farmers who really could use sort of that extra technical assistance, and to just be part of that community building. This initiative is for everyone.

Rulemaking Updates

Now let’s look again at some rule making updates. There’s already been some conversation about Strengthening Organic Enforcement. That final rule is at the Office of Management and Budget. And so, I know the government structures can be a little overwhelming for those who aren’t around it every day. They’re a little overwhelming for those who are around it every day! OMB is a relatively small agency actually, and they’re within the White House infrastructure. They review all significant and economically significant rules that go through the Federal Government. And so that rule right now is at OMB review. It went there in August. Officially, OMB has 90 days to review a rule. In April and in September, we launched training for certifiers and producers in the Organic Integrity Learning Center (OILC).

We have published the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) Proposed Rule. As mentioned, that is in public comment right now.

Another one that’s in public comment right now is advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on inerts. So, the shorthand for this is list 3 and 4. This has been the topic of a number of Board meetings over the past couple of years here. We have moved that advanced notice forward, and we do invite public comment on the different alternatives that will be best accomplished the trade-offs needed on that one.

We have also published and are working on additional National List rules. We are writing what we’re calling the Nitrogen Rule, and so that addresses recommendations from the Board related to ammonia extracts, the high nitrogen fertilizer recommendation, and sodium nitrate. So, we really are moving forward on these rules.

We are also working on a market development rule. This rule will combine pet food and mushrooms. These are two proposed rules that were actually underway during what we will call Vilsack One. And so now that we are in Vilsack 2, we have dusted off those and are working on that market development rule.

I want to pause and give a shout out to the Standards Team. I would like to acknowledge all the writing and analysis that goes into this work.

Organic Control Systems and Enforcement

Now I want to turn to the 2 other goal areas that are really about strong organic control systems and enforcement. This is a graphic that we use as a little bit of a roadmap to explain both how we approach oversight, compliance, and enforcement, and explain some of the distinctions, what we do, and why certain things make different paths than others. I’m a big fan of matrices. On the bottom, the X scale, we have activities that are oriented towards capability development. So, developing the capability of the community. This is also continuous improvement and enforcement. So, that’s catching the bad guys and so that’s the bottom. And then on the side we do activities that are at the operation level, at the certifier level, and that are broad-bases at industry and even country level. And so, what we’ve done here is sort of plotted the types of activities and deliverables and outcomes that we do, depending on where we are on the grid. Sometimes we use the grid to discuss what to do next, and often a distinction in continuous improvement versus enforcement comes down to the amount of evidence we have, and so evidence drives enforcement. You cannot enforce without clear evidence, and so often when we’re thinking about systems, oversight and enforcement activity the question is, what do we have in terms of evidence that a violation of the regulations has occurred? So, staying on the information side, there are times where we believe that there might be a problem in a market, or we see an area where more continuous improvement is needed. Or, for example, we get a recommendation from the Organic Standards Board on certain items, and that leads to certain activities. So, at the highest level, broad-based industry or country level, that can lead to new training programs.

So, for example, we had gotten feedback about soil health, natural resource, conservation, and organic seed use. And so, over the last 2 or 3 years, we have developed training programs, because our first hope is when we provide training that helps develop that level of playing field by helping everybody understand what they need to do. And so, training is often a first step when we hear there may be a problem, and that often has a good impact and certifiers adjust their system based on training.

We also do webinars, fact sheets, enforcement updates to share some of the work that we have been doing, and then new rules and policy where needed and appropriate. The certifier level accreditation audits, while they can lead to enforcement, often they lead to continuous improvement. So, non-compliance findings lead to corrective actions that improve the certifier system that then improves the operation system. I think we’ve seen that extensively in the livestock market. The livestock market is getting better because of this. This works.

We also do regional directives and surveillance activities for higher risk markets where we may or may not have enough evidence for enforcement. We also do company-specific alerts, so if we think there is a problem with a shipment or a particular area, we do company-specific letters and calls for information at the enforcement side. We can take enforcement action at a regional, country, or commodity level. An example at the country level is in, for example, we ended the India arrangement, recognition arrangement, and organic.

We also do trade arrangement oversight with all of our different trade partners, and they do with us as well. On the enforcement side, we can issue certifier non-appliances. Sometimes we’ll enter into settlement agreements with certifiers to bring them into compliance, and sometimes we issue proposed suspensions that can go into an appeals process, or can simply be accepted as final, and we do the same at the operation level.

At the most egregious level, we have civil penalties, which we often use for with noncertified operations, and even prison time. For the prison time, we work through our Federal Partners. Department of Justice is a key stakeholder in organic and has helped advance our work.

Import Oversight
I want to touch a bit on import oversight, because that continues to be an area of interest for the community.

And so we still have a lot of different tools and we’ve continued to deepen those tools for import oversight over time. We have teams that conduct yield analyses, mass balance analyses, and traceability analyses, so we can see how much your farm’s producing, how much is being shipped, and how much I being accepted here in the United States.

What does that look like? We’re doing that at country levels, at commodity levels, and as part of surveillance of specific supply chains. The good news is we’re seeing certifiers doing a lot more of this work directly. So often, now we’re checking their work rather than doing it ourselves, and we have put training on the OILC on those topics.

We have dramatically increased the number of HTS codes that’s harmonized trade system codes that helps us track organic imports coming into the United States. That’s an area where we have collaborated with AMS Market News, as well as International Trade Commission (ITC) and worked with industry. Those codes are very helpful in tracking at specific commodity levels and what’s coming in. We also now have access through our Customs and Border Protection Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). We have access to see manifest-level data for imports, which is a huge help in investigations and in surveillance, and country commodity assessments. We continue to look at what we consider high risk commodities and high risk of countries in doing assessments and getting ahead of the market.

So, where organic is growing, where we see rapid growth in a market, we have tools to get in there right away, and sort of discover what’s going on that leads often to shipment and supply chain surveillance to let all the actors know in those supply chains that we are paying attention. We know who they are, and where they’re going.

And then, finally, I mentioned that we work with other governments on both government reviews and collaboration. So, for example, right now, we’ve been doing a number of technical supply chain surveillance activities with Canada, due to the nature of our equivalency arrangement with Canada. Watching those supply chains move around the world is very, very important, and we, both countries, have learned a lot through that technical collaboration process.

So, those are some of the activities we’re doing on import oversight.

The NOP Team
Jenny Tucker: I want to close by emphasizing kind of where we are as a team. The national organic program team is now 85 people, and that is due in large part to the advocacy and investments from this community. In talking about the importance of organic oversight, 85 people is a lot of people, and in the advent of remote work through the pandemic a lot of them are working across the country. We do have a team in Washington, DC, but we also have a lot of folks around the country, and so wanted to just emphasize the growth we’ve had.

I also want to, since I am closing here, I want to pause. We’ve talked about the Standards Team and the work they have done. I want to share an update, and this group is going to be the first to hear this. Every quarter, we have what’s called the Employee of the Quarter. We’ve actually given a couple of Employees of the Quarter at this meeting for folks who have contributed, and so I want to announce that I don’t have your plaques today, because I’m just not that organized, but you’re going to get your plaque. I want to announce that this quarter we are doing a joint Employee of the Quarter for two members of our Standards Team who have been particularly pivotal in working through the clearance process for our livestock rule. So, we’ve talked about the OLPS Proposal and Origin of Livestock Final Rule. Both of those rules made it through Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and those are very active meetings with OMB. They have a lot of questions about numbers. They have a lot of questions about approach, and we have two members of the team that were particularly stellar at navigating those dynamics.

So, I am pleased to announce that this quarter’s Employee of the Quarter is a joint award for Devin Patello and Jason Edinston. These two guys work so well together. Devin’s been here a long time and we are grateful for both of you.

We’re grateful for the entire Standards Team. So, a lot of people contribute to writing the rules that we generate out of the program. The clearance process has been particularly just intense, and so, that’s why we wanted to highlight those two with a joint award. Devin is a second time Employee of the Quarter winner. See, stay long enough and you’ll get it again.

That brings us to the close of our program.

Question and Answer Session – NOSB and NOP

Nate Powell-Palm: One of the coolest things about this is that we get to have really clear ask the program session and be your voice to get the questions of the day answered. So, we’re going to open it up to my fellow board members to ask questions to under Secretary Moffat to Jenny Tucker, and we’ll get started.

Rick Greenwood: My question, and hopefully I won’t get killed asking it, but do either of you see a role for GMO in the future in the organic program. And the reason I say that is, we always think about GMO in terms of pesticide resistance, and I think there is more to it. There is root stock now that can grow in arid climates in high salinity soils, and my concern is for the Organic Program.

We’re going to see expansion of agriculture in places like Africa, and the desert, that won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of organic processes. They won’t be able to be certified, so I know it’s part of the legislation, but even the Constitution was amended. So, I was just curious to have you give me your take, Jenny 1 or 2 (Tucker or Lester-Moffitt).

Jenny Lester Moffitt: Well, I will start and Jenny 1 can take the reins after that. That’s a big question. That is a huge question that you’re asking. I think, you know, especially as we talked about, Mindee. I really loved what you talked about is, you know, the NOSB is one of the finest examples of democracy in America, and I think that’s a question really that I would pose to the community. And I am a big advocate for bringing people to the table to have, you know, hopefully hard conversations where we can all really discuss pros and cons. So, I’m not going to answer your question aside from saying to throw it back to the community and say, I think this is a question that the community needs to tackle as a whole. And I am interested in how the community tackles that question. And certainly, as always, USDA has a lot of wealth, of technical and scientific resources, to be able to support the community as it navigates that question.

Rick Greenwood: And I appreciate that I think one of the problems is if you mention GMO in this community, you can be dead meat, and so it’s hard to get people to have discussions. I’ve mentioned it to some of my Board colleagues and say, I don’t know you should even bring that up. It’s hard to get people to understand that there can be GMO and GMO and I come from the human health background where equivalent of GMO is saving lives.

Jenny Lester Moffitt: I mean, it’s not about pesticides, so I appreciate your comment, but I see some concerns. So, Jenny 1.

Jenny Tucker: I would echo what the Undersecretary said. This is a dialogue, and I do think one of the things we have seen is how respectful this Board is in dialogue and debate, and the fact that actually you brought that up as a very first question and no one is running screaming from the room. We’re all still here, and so I do think this community is modeling space for dialogue. And so, what she said.

Jerry D’Amore: That was a wonderful go around. Rick, I applaud you for your question, and I think that what was just said is absolutely true. You said it is part of the dialogue, and you and I have talked about it a lot. You know my thoughts on it, too, which are sympathetic to yours. And now we started, and I thank you.

Brian Caldwell: I’m so excited to see the movement that Dr. Tucker is doing is creating in terms of enforcement and the integrity of the organic label. I think it’s fantastic. A quick comment about the process and rulemaking, and the reviews that happen. And I just want to put a plug in for the economic analysis. I think sometimes it’s done on a pretty simplistic level, and that, in my opinion, the potential cost of damage to the organic label and the integrity and trust of the consumer is something that I believe are something economics can quantify within limits, and that should be part of the process, as well, so that we’re just now looking at the simplistic direct impacts of a decision, but the overall impacts on the consumer side, too.

So, I just want to throw that in there. But then I have a very specific question for Jenny Tucker, and that is that on the AMS decisions webpage, there’s a listing of operations and agencies that have lost their certification or accreditation status, or it’s been the decision has been made to deny it. But there is a step in the final step where it can be reviewed by a USDA Administrative Law Judge. Jenny, I think I’ve got the terminology correct on this one. I look on that page, and from what I can see there’s several of those, and some of them have been resolved as far as the webpage shows for many years, and I’m just wondering what that review process is with the Administrative Law Judge, and then what the timelines we can expect for those are.

Jenny Tucker: Thanks. Yeah, really thoughtful question. I appreciate it and so let’s at least, for those who are not as steeped in the ALJ process, let’s just back up a little bit in terms of the big picture context here. What we’re talking about here is both the complaint investigation process, but also the appeals process. And so, the regulations really do, while the words aren’t specifically in there, they really do emphasize continuous improvement, and that plays all the way through the appeals process. That if an operation has challenges, or if a certifier has challenges, they have many, many, many opportunities to bring themselves into compliance. So, it’s actually a very, very small percentage of our cases that make it to the ALJ. I do want to emphasize that we’re talking about maybe 1-2% of all cases end up at that phase, just for the big picture. Most of our complain cases are resolved by farmers coming into compliance or voluntarily entering into a settlement agreement. And so, the settlement agreement may be with us, or it may be with the certifier. If the settlement agreement doesn’t work or if it is breached, then there can be what’s called the decision. It is the administrator’s decision for the proposed adverse action. So, a proposed suspension, a proposed revocation, is appealed, and it could be that a certifier settles as case, and then we also settle it again, because we do think there’s hope for compliance. So, actually, few cases go to a decision level for the administrator where administrator actually signs off on the proposed adverse action.

When that happens, when there is a decision that the administrator signs, there is another appeal step. If the operator or certifier does not like that decision. Now, many, many entities stop at that phase. So, they receive an administrator’s decision upholding the certifiers of the NOP’s decision, and at that point they kind of say, “Okay, I’m out of the game.” There are also cases where we have settled the case after a decision. So, for example, there might be a decision denying an appeal of a proposed suspension. Turns out that the operation has actually exited the market because they were having a lot of problems. Anyway, we will enter into sometimes a settlement agreement where they agree to stay out of the market for the time that they would have been suspended, and many of them will accept that, and we will probably need to do a little bit of a scrub on the older cases on the website to make sure that if they have been closed. There are a handful of cases that are on that list since 2020 that are slated to go on to an ALJ and have not gone there yet, and some of that relates to just like, I talk about the rulemaking pipeline. We do also have a pipeline associated with the enforcement cases to get to the ALJ. So, just like our rules need to go, for example, through legal review, anything that goes through the ALJ also goes through the same legal review. And, by the way, they’re the same people. We’ve been open about some of the challenges in the pipeline management, and that does impact those ALJ cases. We have had recent conversations with our legal team to move some of those along and to prioritize some of them. We are aware of that pipeline problem.

So, this is a long answer to your question, but it was a really important question. I do, again, want to emphasize that we’re talking about a very, very small handful of cases. We have learned how to use settlement agreements very, very effectively to get bad actors, either out of the game or to bring them into compliance, and that’s always our goal either to get you out of the market or to get you into compliance both as soon as possible, and that settlement agreement process has worked very, very well for us over the last several years in achieving those goals. So, I appreciate your raising the ALJ. It’s not a question I get a lot. It’s things we try to work through and move through. And so you solve some bottlenecks and they move to a different place in the system. And I think you’ve identified an area we’re continuing to work on.

Allison Johnson: Thank you. I really appreciate all of your attention and transparency around support for transition. I spend most of my time right now thinking about how to make sure that anyone who wants to eat or grow or process organic can do that. So, I’m really thrilled to see so much progress this year, and I’m thinking, of course, about what comes next. Undersecretary Moffitt, I appreciate your point about taking a holistic approach, an across USDA approach, to this problem, because it really will take everyone. So, I have a couple of questions for both of you.

Jenny Tucker, I’d love to hear more about the partnership program and how you’re planning to continue to roll out the partnerships and make sure that this program reaches farmers who don’t know about it, don’t see themselves in organic, may not trust USDA because of a history of discrimination. How to really use this as an opportunity to invite folks into organic who may not already be here.

And Undersecretary Moffitt, I’d love to hear from you about what other opportunities you see to work across USDA on organic, including whether there are plans to fill the senior advisor role on organic and whether there are opportunities for USDA to lead on federal procurement as a market development opportunity.

Jenny Lester-Moffitt: Yeah, sure. I’ll certainly take the second question. First off, I want to recognize Marnie Carlin, who’s in the room, who served as Organic Advisor for 6 months under Vilsack 2. And then, also, of course, you know Mark Lipson, who served in Vilsack 1. Organic is a priority for Secretary Vilsack, and it is certainly a priority for me and all of us here. And so, we are on the question of Organic Policy Advisor. It is an absolute priority to fill that position, and we are actively working on that. And, you know, I think that we’ve been able to continue to make really great progress, And, but certainly we could do even more with someone who’s dedicated to working on organic issues.

You ask the question, Allison, about working across USDA. One thing well, there’s many different things. First off, the organic advisor that is an important part of that person that positions portfolio. That said, in the absence of that position being filled, we continue to work, and we’ve talked about the organic transition initiative that’s brought many of our agencies across USDA together to really navigate the system as a whole.

So, we’re meeting regularly, we’re conversing regularly. I think, an important part of that organic, the NRCS piece, the 75 million for organic transition initiative is really importantly of course, making sure that we get important conservation dollars for organic farmers. Also, part of that is training for our agency’s field staff on organic systems. And so, this is just part of growing the wealth of knowledge across USDA.

We’ve been having similar discussions with the farm services agencies we’re working with. Of course, ARS and our research agencies, to ensure we are having that cross-pollination of the work that you guys are working on, and the issues that you’re tackling. Maybe there’s research components that we need to be asking ARS to tackle with us.

So, that is now happening in an organic way. It also, you know, we certainly look forward to when we have our organic and senior organic advisor also doing it in a much more formal way as well. And then there’s procurement. So, we have been working across the board at looking at how we do procurement generally. How are we doing procurement in a way that is making sure we have much more equitable access for producers, processors, generally in being able to participate in procurement at USDA. One of the big things that we’ve been working on is a local food purchase assistance program, as well as local foods for schools. And this is really about partnering with states and getting and investing in States, and giving them a little bit more flexibility with their buying power and procurement.

Although, of course, we do what we call cooperative agreements, which means very similar to the TOPP program. We’re going to be very much involved in each one of those programs and how they’re developed because key is really making sure that we’ve got small underserved farmers being able to participate.

So, I think there’s a lot of opportunity there. So, we’re taking into account, and learning from the states as they’re doing procurement and I know, as we announced the California one in July, that there are lots of organic farmers who are participating. I think it’ll be really helpful for us to see what how, what works, how it works, and so that we can really start to take those lessons, learn and instill them in the programming that we have across USDA for procurement.

I’ll pass it on to Jenny for the first question.

Jenny Tucker: Yeah, that was actually a great lead in with cooperative agreements. Cooperative agreements are really powerful tools. And so, that is actually the mechanism that we are using with the TOPP regions. So, we’re getting to the question of how are we going to build out those partnerships. Cooperative agreements allow us to work directly with a lead organization to shape the partners that are part of the program overall. And so, each of those regions that we talked about has a partner that will be the connector to USDA. So, USDA actually holds the agreement with that single partner, and then that partner will have sub agreements with other partners in that region that allows us to have an ongoing conversation about what is the set of partners who is at the table who’s not at the table? Who do we need to call to find out who to call, who to call, to, who to call, to get, to find out who needs to be at the table. And again, I invite the entire community you’re going to take all of us, and so there are.

It can sound a little bit of an abstraction. Oh, underserved communities. So, my answer is, okay, tell me who to call. You know, I need a phone number. I need an email. So, we got to get to the point where we actually have names and faces that we can connect with and go to their table, or build a new table, or have them come to our table and build the table together.

But we got to get to the very, very practical reality of who are we talking about? And if we don’t know who we’re talking about who do we talk about to talk to, to find out who we’re talking about? This is hard, and I have had some partners say this is going to take some time to build those because in some cases we don’t even know who we’re talking about yet. It is an unknown yet, and that takes time to bring to the surface.

So, I think we’re also committed to starting services quickly and so, balancing those 2 forces of let’s get services out into the world as soon as we can, and also continue to build those conversations. It is something we’re going to carefully monitor of what are the partner lists who do they represent? And do we truly know that we have everyone at the table? And how do we find out if we don’t?

Amy Bruch: Thank you. Thank you for your time and attention. My question will be on enforcement and oversight, and I appreciate all the updates and transparency that was provided. Dr. Tucker, you briefly touched on India with your opening, but since it’s on the hearts and minds of grain farmers, I have a status update question for you just a little bit of background. In January 2020, notice was given to India about the mutual recognition process that would end; therefore, providing a runway of 18 months, which would have been July 2022 for producers in India to be certified under our accredited NOP certification process. So, in reviewing import data recently and maritime reports, we can tell that direct grain imports from India to the US are actually down drastically. However, now the trail appears to show that organic Indian feed grade soybeans are now being routed through Canada, first processed there, and then returning to the US, for at soybean meal. So, we’re actually seeing currently a dramatic decrease in our organic feed grade prices due to this situation, or the apparent situation that’s occurring, so I was just curious what the conversion rate of Indian operations that made the transition to the certification system, and then, secondarily, in that same time frame that NOP was making these changes. Do you have insight in what Canada’s approach to India was? That was a lot.

Jenny Tucker: Yes, and you did a good job of summarize where we are with India.

So that’s helpful and so we did have an eighteen-month transition period, where operations that had been formally certified under the India organic system, could directly apply and get certified through USDA certifiers, and so, first to the conversion rate. Before we ended the recognition arrangement, there were a little more than 4,000 certified operations under the indio-organic standards. At the end of the 18 months that number was 1,200. Okay, so, it was somewhere between, and that number has continued to increase as certifiers have been certifying those businesses, so that I think tells us a lot in a lot of areas. And I think it certainly has had some supply chain impacts. Our certifiers are out there on the ground, doing inspections to make sure farms are actually real. We meet regularly with USDA certifiers that are certifying those farms. We have given directives to certifiers for testing for shiploads leaving India. We are doing surveillance on imports. We’re going to have a team going to India to check all of those USDA certifiers, and how they’re doing on the ground. So, we’re taking a number of actions to really make sure that the integrity is where we need it to be in India.

After ending, and that it was a big deal to end that arrangement, I think the collaboration between certifiers working in that country is going very, very well. They are exchanging information about operations for the purposes of certification and decertification. So, there have been some applicants that have tried to move between certain things, and they’ve all said no, and so I think that system is working.

Let’s go to Canada. So, Canada is one of our equivalency partners. And so, Canada. The arrangement with Canada was developed before any of this import oversight activity started. I think, at that time, we’re all open about the fact. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, and was way back in, you know, 2009. It is what some call a global arrangement which actually means that a farm can be certified to the Canada standard core standards, and it can be shared to Canada. And then it can come here. And so that is one of the primary reasons that we have been working very hard at a technical level with Canada to do supply chain surveillance and point out where some of the challenges are in traceability back to Canada. Canada’s program is smaller than ours, and so we have been able to really bolster our enforcement capability, and Canada and us have had a number of information exchange sessions where we’ve kind of walked through what we do and how we do it, and why we do it. And so, it is an area that we continue to talk to Canada about, to make sure that our systems for overseeing those India imports truly are equivalent.

Carolyn Dimitri: It was a nice reminder that this is sort of like the twentieth birthday of the national organic standards this month, and at that time, like there were no Federal farm programs available to organic farmers. So, looking now, and we see like conservation programs and crop insurance as existing for organic farmers is like in its own, a big win. So, I wanted to talk about that a little bit. I did a focus group with about 100 certified organic farmers over the past year, and they listed 3 things as being problematic. One was technical assistance, the other was even knowing about the possibility of participating in conservation programs, and then the other is crop insurance.

I have a couple of questions, and I appreciate your discussions already of technical assistance and conservation programs. Because I think one thing targeted was like the lack of knowledge from NRCS Field staff, so that’s really important. And I was really happy to hear you say that, but I wonder where the transition program is looking to transition conventional farmers to organic, where do they go to look for technical support? They kind of go to their cooperative extension person. And so, I wonder how this great graph that Jenny displayed is going to serve existing organic farmers, and how you see it serving those transitioning who have this model of how they look at the world? And then the other thing is crop insurance. You know, I guess I’ve heard from farmer after farmer after farmer that crop insurance just doesn’t work for them.

I mean organic farmers, and, like, I do think that organic farmers are entitled to given the way we run our agricultural system to like an equal amount of risk sharing as a conventional farmer would be, so I guess I’m really curious to see how you see this playing out over the you know the coming years, so that organic farmers have like equal access to farm programs and also have equal amounts of risk sharing and access to conservation funding, so I don’t know who wants to answer that.

Jenny Lester Moffitt: I could take a stab, and Jenny can follow up. Certainly, we want to reach more organizations that reach a lot of farmers that we haven’t connected with in the past, particularly especially disadvantaged farmers underserved farmers. You’re right that we also have an opportunity to reach conventional farmers who are going through traditional pathways methods. So, cooperative extension is very important. We also see just thinking about the wealth of resources that farmers are looking to, farm advisors are important, so are things like certified crop advisors, PCAs (?), and so those we also see as definite partners to include in the networks.

I think it is a conversation which Jenny talked about, the partnership that the NOP will have with each of the regions and the leads. What we want also is the regions side and who are the right people because they know what’s really needed in the region. So, I think that’s a big part of that component. And crop insurance is a difficult one. I know that in the past year, and the work that we have been doing as we’ve been developing the Organic Transition Initiative, RMA is really interested in looking at and diving into crop insurance, so that crop insurance meets the needs of the diversity of producers across the country, and that includes small producers that includes specialty crop producers and certainly includes organic producers. This 25 million is really important, because it gives additional funds for organic farmers transitioning organic farmers. So, it’s not just for transitioning but also for existing farmers.

But I think it’s also what’s important about it is also is the dialogue that we’re having, and you know certainly the NOP team and Jenny and I have talked a lot about this. We’ve been having a regular dialogue with RMA on how we can support at the NOP level RMA in the work that they’re doing, ensuring that crop insurance is really meeting the need. I also just want to recognize that things like the Organic Data Initiative are very important. As we gather more data and have the numbers for crop insurance, those types of things are very important, as well.

Jenny Tucker: I would like to add that emphasized the partnership aspect of it. You know our Standards team has already provided some, and has been providing over time, training for NRCS folks. I think the initiative is also connecting local resources where some of our partners are already very well connected in with the NRCS offices, and this just provides more resources to continue to build that infrastructure and long-term education. The OILC again is a resource that I’ve we’ve seen lots of people with NRCS that do complete those courses. It is a work in progress, and I think TOPP will go a long way in continuing to build that knowledge infrastructure, because human capital covers an RCS.

Amy Bruch: Yes, this time around my question will be on organic supply chains. I appreciate the need and attention given to the contributions for growing our organic supply chains. Just wanted to provide a little bit of background that current farmers and producers are experiencing over the past few years. Actually, a sad and serious trend has happened when some handlers that are purchasing organic products are going bankrupt. And so, when this happens, and it’s happened across dairy, poultry, and several handlers and grains, it’s just really having disastrous effects to organic producers, because when they file bankruptcy, bankruptcy laws now allow for them to the handlers request paybacks. So, they issue callback letters. So, a payment received by a producer within 90 days of that handler becoming bankrupt, they have to repay this large sum of money. Organic farmers feel alone. They’re not necessarily networked, and so they have these devastating repercussions. Several have gone out of business just because of these handlers’ filing bankruptcy. So, I would like to make the recordation for vigilance when tackling the supply chain.

I really encourage looking at the entrepreneurial organic producers, and allowing them opportunities for vertical integration, instead of letting additional outsiders into our program that may not have the same intentions. I know there’s a listening session coming up, but I just would like kind of a brief update of some of the key markets, because that was in the organic insider that certain markets are going to be targeted. And then, also, just request that additional care and attention is put to this process so we do not have too many more organic farmer casualties.

Jenny Tucker: Thank you so much for sharing that and we will make sure that we incorporate and take that into account. Vertical integration is such an important part. Just as we talk about value out across the board, this is such an important part of the organic industry and agriculture as a whole.

At the listening session, we are excited about hearing all different, you know, from all different factions of the organic community, about opportunities for pin-pointed market development. So, what are those pinpoints that we have heard in the past year, as we started to really have a dialogue and listen to folks about what’s needed and market development? And I’m going to do my best to remember all of them, and hopefully, I will get them all if that will follow up and make sure you’ve got more.

One is organic grain and feed, domestic, as we’ve already talked about, and as you’ve already talked about the need to increase the domestic growth of organic grain and feed is absolutely important. We also know, and you know, you all know, and you’d particularly know as an organic farmer, that an important part of organic production is rotation crops, and to be able to start to develop new market opportunities for those rotation crops is something that we’ve heard is really important. So things like pulses and stuff like that, so pulses in rotation crops is another one.

Organic dairy is certainly another key market that we have heard, and so we’ve added that to the list, and then let’s see fibers so organic hemp. Cotton byers is another one, and then I feel like there’s a fifth one that I am blanking on—oh, ingredients, of course. Okay. So again, organic ingredients, we’ve heard this from processors who are looking to be able to have more products and some things like sweeteners, for instance, or other ingredients are very hard to find particularly domestically. And so, really trying to focus on increased domestic production of organic products is the key. And so, for ingredients that’s another piece as well.

Dilip Nandwani: Hello, I don’t have a question, but I rather have an appreciation and thank you. If you recall early this year, when I was appointed on the Board, and in February we had a coffee table meeting with you, and of course Marni was part of it, too. We presented some topics from minority and underserved communities and socially disadvantage farmers.

He talked about that and since I’m serving 1890 institution, TSU one of the topic. I would say about 4 topics were presented, and I’m very pleased to see that 2 topics have been already paid a lot of progress. The one is on the increased funding. That was in February when we presented and in about 6 to 8 months. We see that millions of dollars of funding is out there from USDA, and I’ll be very specific and I’m reading RFA here, as well. The first one is about the 250 million dollars for next generation farmers. Now this is overall for the agriculture. However, organic farmers, producers, researchers, they can be part of this funding, and TSU is also one of the leading and up to 20 million dollar funding can be submitted in each grant from 500 to 20 million. That this is for 1899 grant institutions, 1994 institutions, and Native serving institutions. Hawaii, as well as Hispanic serving institutions and insular institutions, and I saw to Virgin Islands, where I served underserved communities. Dr. Tucker presented slides, and I saw that UVI logo there, too. So, I’m very glad again to see that that has been really been taken care of about this increased funding.

The second point we presented about the technical assistance, and, like Caroline mentioned also, and I mention about underserved and technical assistance. So, organic is about using on farm resources. As we all know, we have a beautiful cooperative system across land grant institutions across the country use that existing resource, cooperative extension faculty extension agents and they can reach out to really do the grassroots level work with these underserved communities. In each county, they can go and help them in terms of technical assistance.

At Tennessee, we started collaboration with an RCS and other multi-agency partnerships. And about 2 years ago, and they called organic champions, all agencies. And we have this beautiful program which we started, and they are reaching out and providing this technical assistance to organic producers. I’d like to say thank you very much.

Javier Zamora: I have several comments but a couple of questions I know it’s really hard for us right trying to fix the organic production, and what’s going on in a domestic way, let alone having to police stuff that comes from other countries. So, you guys have your hands full. We appreciate that. It’s sometimes when policing is not correctly done it makes things very difficult for domestic growers to succeed. Having said that, Jenny, I have had the pleasure of having you at the farm a couple of times, I really appreciate that it’s always an honor.

So, you have seen that keeping a diversified farm at a mid-scale like mine, it is very, very difficult, and labor is just so expensive, not to mention housing for my employees. I just give you a little example, as in California, as growers and employers, after you have more than 25 employees, you have to provide many other things, including paying overtime after 8 hours. When you have 48 employees, it’s just thousands of dollars that we can’t quite really get…is for the price that we normally get from any broker. Is there anything that the USDA is working on to help mid-size small growers with housing their employees on? Maybe help now with offsetting some of the later cost another?

I’ll give you another example. My bringing strawberries to Sacramento, and these areas from Watsonville, three hours away. Last year my fuel cost was $36,000. This year, so far it is over $90,000, and I’m not selling my strawberries for $10 more a case. We’re hurting a lot and I wonder if there’s something down the line that is going to help us mitigate some of those issues.

Jenny Tucker: Thank you for that, and yes, so for those who are looking to bring on H2A employees, we are developing a program. I think we’re still in the listening phase. But maybe we’ve stopped receiving comments. I should check on our timeline and we can make sure to get back to you on that. But we are developing a program to help offset some of the costs for employers, particularly small players who are bringing H2A employees, and that can include things like housing. It will really depend on what we hear from folks of what is needed to be able to offset some of those costs. So, we do have that coming down the pipe and we’ll make sure that we get information to you on that on that program.

Mindee Jeffrey: Given the context of many proposals by this Board on Excluded Methods, and the recent Executive Order for Advancing Biotechnology, could either of you speak to the nuts and bolts of practical possibilities for advancing the NOSB’s unanimous recommendations on this issue through the greater USDA?

Jenny Tucker: So, nuts and bolts—I’ll jump in on nuts and bolts. And so, I appreciate the question. Also, I appreciate all the work that has gone into Excluded Methods. You know that Rick kind of asked a question along these lines earlier. I think I do want to emphasize the appreciation for the collaborative work that has gone into that over the years, and the ongoing nature of the conversation and what that looks like now. I will zoom out to sort of the broader question of what happens to an NOSB recommendation when it comes to us, because I think there have been a lot of questions about okay, how are you moving along the NOSB recommendation?

And so, this is, it’s actually a collection of recommendations from the Board related to Excluded Methods. And so, when we get those recommendation, we’ll review them as a Program, and we review all recommendations also in light of other programs within AMS or USDA that may have a stake in those topics. And so, certainly Excluded Methods touches on areas that other part of USDA care about. You talked about the Executive Order which emphasizes sort of interest in sub harmonization and definitions. I do want to be clear that we talk about. We use the term GMO, but what we’re talking about in the regulations is Excluded Methods, and I think it is very important to remember that distinction. I have now searched the regulations several times. It doesn’t actually mention genetic engineering and GMO. It’s about Excluded Methods. So, when I talk about, well, how does the Program feel about GMOs, I point to the regs and what they say about Excluded Methods. And because that is really the baseline for anything related to this topic is that definition.

That recommendation we got from NOSB does have some pretty specific terms and terminology. So, I do think that with the new Executive Order given the interest in harmonization of definitions, you know, should that recommendation move, for it would take some of that discussion with other folks who are defining those terms to determine how do others define those terms? What does that look like? So, I think the nuts and bolts are…we are in that kind of analysis process.

The Executive Order is fairly new, right? Something, I think we’re all still getting our arms around in terms of what does that actually mean in terms of the nuts and bolts of execution? So, I think we will continue to review that recommendation and see what the best path forward is given the Board’s intent with that without recommendation…

Carolyn Dimitri: I wanted to talk about the climate change memo that the NOP have the NOSB, kind of in the context of when I think of where a lot of the best research on organic has taken place, and that is actually at USDA. And so, when we received the memo, I looked at it and thought, wow! These are kind of strange questions to put to a Board of mostly farmers and a couple of researchers. So, also along those lines, I’ve noticed that the people who are working on organic within the USDA are either retiring, or they’re probably going to retire in like 5 or so years (just speculating based upon their ages). So, I wonder what the plan is within USDA to bolster the research part that supports organic?

You have got the government, you have the farming, and you have the researchers, and they kind of all work together. So, either Dr. Tucker or Undersecretary Moffitt, I’d like to hear your thoughts on that.

Dr. Jenny Tucker: That is such an important question and certainly, you know the ORI is such an important component of that. To make sure that we continue to have funding and so I know that the 2018 Farm Bill was very important in the organic research initiative to continue funding that. As far as a research agenda, I’m not sure we have one specific, but I should definitely connect with my colleagues over in research education and have to conversations. I know there are new folks there that do have organic background. It’s wonderful that people retire. But yeah, as you know, certainly we lose some really great institutional knowledge, and so wanting to make sure that there’s good overlap will be really important.

I also know that certainly, across the board at USDA, we have regular climate meetings, so across all of our agencies we’re meeting. NOP has representation in those climate meetings, so we have a dedicated person, as well as, of course, generally at marketing and regulatory programs. So organic is very integrated into the work. That, and USDA is talking about when we’re working on a climate together, because, of course, climate organic is an important climate component of agriculture.

I also just want to recognize that a couple months ago we announced that climate smart commodities, the first round of the climate smart commodity, and there were, and that those do have components of research as well, adding in conservation practices, other practices, on farm practices, but then also marketplace development. And I was really glad to see that there were many proposals that were funded that have an organic component as well to those.

So, it’s continuously progress. You know, we’re continuously making improvements in that. But certainly, those are a few areas where we’ve made some good progress, and we have more to go, and I will definitely connect with my colleagues to make sure to see how we can further connect on our organic research agenda as a whole at USDA. Thank you for that question.

I think that there’s a lot to say about how so much good work has been done within the USDA. And we have to almost educate people about what treasures they have in their own house. So, thank you.

Nate Powell-Palm: We have Jenny one for all 3 days, so we I think we’re good on questions.

Compliance, Accreditation, & Certification Subcommittee (CACS)

Amy Bruch, Chairperson

Amy Bruch: I want to thank all the members of our certification and accreditation and Compliance subcommittee. The subcommittee is comprised of a lot of diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, which offers us robust conversation on these difficult subject matters. We also do a lot of deliberation and comprehensive discussions that generates our proposals and discussion documents. I want to thank you all for your time and your contributions to this subcommittee in CACS.

We had a jam-packed schedule on really important topics that dovetail directly into the aspects touched on by under Secretary Moffat and Deputy Director Jenny Tucker. Before we get started, I just wanted to also think the community for your contributions via written comments, and also our public comments that were oral. We had over 371 references to our agenda topics in the written comments alone, so that was pretty impressive. So, we had a lot to digest, and good feedback on pretty much all sides of the equation. I’m really looking forward to discussing our full agenda from CACS with the full board now, and without further ado, I’m going to turn it over to Kyla, and she will be tackling our first proposal.

Proposal: NOP Risk Mitigation Table review

Background: On November 18, 2021, the National Organic Program (NOP) sent a memo to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) requesting that it review and facilitate public comment on the National Organic Program’s (NOP) Risk Mitigation Table. This table was developed in response to the 2020 peer review conducted by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) National Accreditation Board and seeks to document the ways NOP safeguards impartiality in the delivery of services and oversight over accredited certifiers. In 2017 the International Standard ISO/IEC 17011; Conformity assessment – General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies was revised. This standard, along with the requirements outlined in the organic regulations themselves, is what NOP adheres to in carrying out its accreditation procedures. The new ISO standard now recommends that an organization’s risk mitigation controls be reviewed by a representative body. The NOSB is serving as this “representative body” given the Board’s prior interest in the NOP Peer Review process.

Kyla Smith: So, we’re going to be starting off with the risk mitigation table. CACS has a recommendation here to the full Board that the NOP revised the Risk Mitigation Table to include the areas outlined in the proposal, and the NOP incorporated the risk mitigation table into their procedures.

So, just a little backstory on this agenda item. NOP sent NOSB a memo on November the eighteenth, 2021, asking us to review the risk mitigation table that was developed in response to the 2020 peer review conducted by ANSI. The table seeks to document the ways NOP safeguards impartiality in the delivery of services according to ISO 17011. At this meeting, CACS puts forth their second proposal that incorporated stakeholder feedback from the Spring 2022 meeting. We request that the NOP revised the table to include those areas that were either missing or needed a little bit more detail.

All of the public comment that we’ve received here for this fall meeting was in support of those additional areas being included in the table. There were several comments that acknowledged this is a great first step, but that the conversation needs to continue related to conflicts of interest within the certification system. The CACS did outline a few areas that were outside of the scope of this particular agenda item. But that could be future work, agenda items.

And then, additionally, there was also a comment by a stakeholder that was requesting inclusion in the cover letter, or something related to the NOP handbook document and including accreditation policies in the Handbook versus within the regulate regulations citing that the Handbook is non-binding. I just wanted to say that from the sort of certifier perspective, that while the Program Handbook does include that phrasing there, there is a mechanism for oversight and enforcement for certifiers to comply with instructions in the Handbook. During accreditation audits, when certifiers are not following items that are in that handbook or other certification emails or memos, 205.501 (a) (21), which states a private or governmental entity accredited as a certifying agent under this subpart must comply with and carry out any other terms and conditions determined by the Administrator to be necessary. And I speak from personal experience. PCO a few years back received a non-compliance related to 26.0 3, which is the instruction or certifiers on how to implement certificates, and that was what was cited to us, and we had to fix how we were noting some dates. So, it was not a big deal, and we submitted our corrective action plan and are in compliance. But there is a mechanism to ensure that certifiers are following documents that are in the program Handbook related to certification and our accreditation.

And with that I will open it up for questions.

Amy Bruch: Thank you, Kyla, for your work on this subject, and also for the clarification in regards to the Handbook. We’ve actually seen several public comments in relation to different topics on our agenda discussing how much authority the Handbook has versus Regulations. In this particular, piece it looks like there is some teeth to the handbook. Okay, that that’s just my concern that so many of our policies exist in the guidelines, and not necessarily in regulations, and that’s, I believe, a common theme that goes under the umbrella of consistency. So, as long as we can have a consistent approach think we’re better off as a community, especially on conflicts of interest.

Nate Powell-Palm: Any other questions or comments? Seeing none, we will go to a vote.

CACS recommends that NOP revise the Risk Mitigation Table to include the areas outlined above and that the NOP incorporate the Risk Mitigation Table (NOP 1009) into their procedures.

Motion to accept the proposal on the NOP’s Risk Mitigation Table. Motion by: Kyla Smith, Second: Nate Powell-Palm.
Yes: 15 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion passes.

Discussion Document: Human Capital Management: NOSB Technical Support Initiative
Background: Much of the momentum for the initiative to seek technical support for the NOSB came from the Fall 2020 discussion document titled, Human Capital Strategy for Organic Inspectors and Reviewers. During its Spring 2021 meeting, the NOSB considered a discussion document on Human Capital Management: Supporting the Work of the NOSB. Additionally, the National Organic Program (NOP) released a Request for Applications (RFA) for human capital in Spring 2021, which included a request for industry stakeholders to bring forth ideas on supporting the NOSB through the public-private partnership. No proposals were made for that component of the RFA. Therefore, the CACS developed this discussion document seeking feedback for NOSB technical support specifically. The rationale for this initiative is simple. NOSB positions are not financially compensated, and many Board members have full-time jobs. The time investment and workload for NOSB members can be 10-15 hours per week and this can potentially limit the number of people willing to take on board membership. Motion to accept the proposal on NOSB technical support

Subcommittee Proposal: CACS recommends that NOP proceed with an initiative to provide technical support to the NOSB. CACS further recommends that the source of technical support come from within the USDA but from outside the AMS/NOP. Technical support staff should NOT draft proposals or discussion documents, initiate polls of stakeholder groups, or communicate on behalf of the NOSB or any subcommittee. Technical support should attend all meetings relevant to their topics. The NOP should serve as the administrator of the support staff but not task them directly.

Motion to accept the proposal on NOSB technical support. Motion by: Jerry D’Amore, Seconded by: Kim Huseman.
Yes: 15 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion Passes.

Proposal: Oversight improvements to deter fraud: Acreage Reporting Proposal
Background: Currently, each certifier chooses the format of its organic certificates. On these certificates, certifiers typically list crops and livestock by the products for which they are certified. While exceptions exist, most certifiers do not list crops by acres.
One of the points in the supply chain where the risk of fraud is highest is when the production of multiple producers is aggregated. During an inspection, aggregators of certified products provide organic certificates from their suppliers (producers) to the inspector. In most inspections, inspectors can only verify that the supplier is certified for the crop the inspected party purchased, not the supplier’s capacity. By having access to certificates that list harvested acreage by crop type, an inspector will be able to quickly check whether the capacity of the supplying operations supports amounts purchased by the aggregator.

Amy Bruch: Okay, just a little bit of background for this oversight to deter fraud topic. This has been on our working agenda for a year now, and it’s been presented in many different forms. The themes from the community that really help generate this proposal was just the concepts of modernizing enforcement mechanisms, continuous improvement and enforcement, and consistency and certification. So, the current state in regards to this topic is inspectors currently do not have a consistent tool to identify production capacity concerns up and down the supply chain by having a quick look back. Overselling can be flagged and quickly examined. The proposal, and I’m highlighting this a couple times, because the scope of the proposal is actually very narrow. So, the proposal is that CACS recommends that the NOP requires certifiers to list a certified operations harvested acres by crop type, and the total acres in the operation on the organic certificate. The goals of this proposal number one consistency, including that all certifiers are deploying the same approach. Consistency among certifiers will enable consistency at inspection, enforcement, increased robustness of mass balance audits during inspections, conduct aggregated mass balances of regions or countries and then complement the full supply chain audits that we are aware that are coming through the SOE additional fraud, prevention tools.

This is a subset of the proposal that there can be now reconciliation of sales versus production throughout the supply chain at inspection, and potentially identifying those overselling moments. One more time, the scope on this proposal is listing on organic certificates harvested acres by crop type and total acres. Also highlighted in the proposal, and we heard from several commenters that we need to think about special consideration or helpful taxonomy for small producers.

A few of the comments in support of this proposal from our community, and then we’ll proceed with the remainder of the slides. So, in support, we heard from several certifiers, 10 farmers, 2 farmer inspectors, that supported the proposal for advocacy groups, and 2 additional certifiers supported the proposal, but requested the proposal to have flexibility to small growers. Currently, some certifiers and farmers are doing this and one actually has been doing this for 10 years.

CACS recommends that NOP require certifiers to list a certified operations harvested acres by crop type and the total acres in the operation on the organic certificate.

Motion to accept the proposal on Oversight Improvements to Deter Fraud – Acreage Reporting. Motion By: Amy Bruch, Seconded By: Nate Powell-Palm.
Yes: 15 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion passes.

Discussion Document: Oversight improvements to deter fraud: Minimal Reporting Requirements
Background: At the Spring 2022 NOSB meeting, the Compliance, Accreditation & Certification Subcommittee (CACS) brought forth a discussion document on “Oversight improvements to deter fraud: Modernization of organic supply chain traceability” for full board consideration. Informed by stakeholder input from across the supply chain, farmers, brokers, buyers, manufacturers, and organic certifiers all agreed that consistency is essential to creating a robust verification system to live up to the promise of total transparency. The discussion document also explored improving consistency in the commonly used bill-of-lading document.

The CACS noted several takeaways from the discussions. The first was that most commenters agreed consistency is the foundation of trust, and trust is the currency behind the organic seal. Stakeholder confidence is eroded by inconsistent expectations and the inability to identify and correct fraudulent behavior. The second highlight was that consistency is needed across all forms and procedures in the organic certification and enforcement process.

According to public comments by some organic certifiers (Oregon Tilth (OTCO) and Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), non-compliances for inadequate record-keeping are the most common non-compliances issued by their certification teams. These record-keeping issues do not reflect individual instances of fraudulent activity and take up the inspector’s time, reducing a certifier’s capacity to detect actual fraud. Are certifiers clearly communicating the minimum reporting elements? Are producers at a disadvantage due to the subjectivity of what constitutes sufficiency? Consistency builds trust. Consistency allows organic farmers to trust the rules are being equally enforced.

In this current discussion document, the CACS is exploring ways to continuously improve the transparency of the record-keeping and audit systems of organic certification, by focusing on consistency and minimum reporting requirements.

Discussion Document: Organic and Climate Smart Agriculture
[Stay tuned for a record of the notes.]


Wednesday, October 26, 2022: Fall NOSB Meeting, Day 2

9:00am PT: Call to Order

The NOSB go around about things they learned from day 1 of the NOSB meeting.

OFRF Update

Wood Turner: OFRF has just published the national organic research agenda, based on farmer surveys, focus groups, etc. Introducing Brise Tencer: leading the mission to encourage the widespread adoption of organic systems. Prior to OFRF Brise worked for CCOF and Union of Concerned Scientists.

Brise Tencer: Advancing on-farm research, here I will be sharing the OFRF report summary. Thelma Valez is also available to answer questions about this project during Q&A. OFRF has 30+ years of research grant-making program. We fund very small grants but they have a great track record for advancing and getting bigger grants. All the priorities we fund are based on input to farmers. Heavily invested in climate-oriented research. Thinking about how to support early-career researchers of color as well. Due to doing more outreach, this yar we had a tremendous application pool from Black, indigenous, and POC applicants.

There has been substantial research into soil health since the last research report, so we are working to distill our research and get it out to farmers. We have a learning course about soil health in the South now. We are developing some Spanish-speaker resources for producers in the Western region as well.

Partnership agreement with National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

There are some NOBS-specific challenges that some OREI and ORG-funded research products have addressed.

This slide shows the OFRF research gaps they have noted.

National Organic Research Agenda (NORA):

NORA is a national survey of organic and transitional producers (You can find the 2022 survey here: Over 1k survey responses and 16 focus groups. Some of the areas of the country has more responses than others, but it closely matches the geographic location of organic producers. We broke down some responses by ago-ecological regions as well, able to look at finer scale and commodity correlation of responses. We especially did this when looking at responses to climate change challenges.

Highlights from survey findings:

  • Transitioning farmers need more help.
  • 45% of organic growers sell to wholesale, but the primary markets for transitioning is direct to consumers (there is a need to advance access to market for transitioning farmers).
  • The use of soil-health managing practices varies based on the agro-ecological region.
  • Transitioning growers are using cover crops and intercropping more than experienced farmers. They may be more motivated more by environmental stewardship.
  • Highlight a continuing need to build soil health.
  • The frequency of use of organic inputs by organic farms. Manure was the most used organic input, though that use was dependent on region as well.
  • Diverse production challenges, often skewed by region. Managing soil fertility was listed as a significant challenge by 43% of respondents for example.

Top production challenges to those already certified organic: 

Slide: the top 5 challenges for organic farmers.
The top 5 challenges for organic farmers.

Production challenges by regions (SARE regions) versus agro-ecological regions: SARE regions the production challenges were similar, but when you swap to agro-ecological regions there is a greater spread.

Production challenges by BIPOC individuals generally identified same challenges as those who were white, but they identified them more strongly. Specifically, production cost – no surprise due to the structural inequality. Beginner versus experienced production: they generally reflected these challenges areas equally, so the BIPOC farmers stand out as separate and their challenges are not just because they are beginner farmers.

Transitioning farmers are struggling more with finding c=varieties of seed, but otherwise they have similar challenges as existing growers (like controlling weeds).

The biggest non production challenges are: accessing labor (survey was doesn’t early in COVID pandemic), finding and developing markets, cost of organic certification, meeting record keeping requirements, and developing infrastructure were the top 5 challenges.

High rates of organic farmer concerns about pesticide and herbicide drift, and respondents noted how it’s impacting organic integrity.

Preferred solutions for getting information: from other certified organic farmers, other farmers, online resources, organic certifiers, and then crop consultants.

The research agenda has a lot of information on OFRF’s recommendations: we need more investment in organic agriculture!

OREI and ORG have made substantial process in addressing farmer-identified technical assistance needs – but more investment is needed! There is an opportunity to put a lot more research funding into various programs. We’d like to increase resources toward translating, summarizing and making research resources accessible to growers so they can benefit from this research!

Additional recommendations:

  • Increase federal support for SUDA certified organic production and transition
  • Recognize organic as a meaningful player in climate change solutions (there is still some un-evenness there)
  • Build racial equity and support diversity of producers in organic sector (our minority serving institutions and training resources have all given feedback here, and we should continue to take feedback to them).

Contact information for OFRF staff:

OFRF and NORA report Q&A

Wood: Re: Research Gaps slide: Presentation from NIFA- limiting the research priorities we put forward from board. IF the list is long, the list should continue to be long. Put the list out there. When I look at your gaps, there are several who have been there for a long time, it concerns me. The idea is the priorities will get attention. Is this funding? Available research? Specificity? What do you think?

Brise: Yes, all of those are challenge areas. We have worked to grow USDA funding for OG research. Got OREI in last farm bill baseline funding 50 mil. Looking at push in next fB process to 100 mil/ year by end of next farm bill. WE also need more researchers wanting to do this work. NOSB recs should be specific and broad areas. Gives fodder for research community.

Thelma Velez: It’s great to have all of these priorities. Those not being met are non-production challenge areas. Hard for researchers to figure out labor because tied to political issues and usually not an area they can deliver results quickly. That might be part of it. Some are more pressing. Weed and pest disease challenges are more pressing—more investments to those challenges.

Dilip: Thank you. This data is great… I looking for clarification in 3 areas:

1. Organic food: International community- they talk about organic consumers trusting the seal. As a researcher mind, I ask whether it is nutritious. Could you tell us more about that? Is it more nutritious or safer? We know it has less pesticide residue.

2. Organic seeds: 20th anniversary. 20 years ago availability was less. Today cost is the concern. Cost and availability.

3. BIPOC: 5 areas for BIOPC community. All the numbers are higher in BIPOC community. What could be the reason for these challenges to be higher. Did you have a check box in your survey instrument?

Thelma: Safety, nutrition, how organic food compares. We have not been prioritizing research that shows that organic food is more nutritious. We know organic food is safer due to less pesticide residue. NOt just for human health consumption, but also for the ecosystem. Own health concerns and environment.

Seeds: Cost and availability: we need to emphasize seeds and breeds specific to organic. for regions that need them. Our survey was done in conjunction with OSA. State of Seed sister report. 50 pages JUST ON SEEDS

BIPOC farmers: BIPOC growers have been given an unfair hand. Legacy of racism in funding, access to land, and resources. These challenges are felt more greatly by BIPOC growers. THe spaces in which people unite. Farmer to farmer is the best way to get info- not as well plugged into these communities. A lot that goes into play in that. We have additional info. Need more time and funding to dig into those.

Brise: Nutritional quality of organic food. WE did not hear quite that much in this survey. Farmers wish consumers understood both quality and nutrition.

Amy: Enjoying seeing your findings ogin into practice (on eOrganic, etc.). Exciting to hear these research dollars are available. Lot of farmers in my community do this on farm. Farmer applicants to grant awardees on OFRF grant.

Brise: 100% of our projects involve a farmers. Low percentage which are farmers without a reaserch farmer. Usually a collaboration- university- farmer. Plant varieties and seed varieties have been areas farmers have come in for. Working on a separate fund for farmer-led trials.

Logan: Transition markets: going to be more T ground coming on board. The T market can scare an organic grower, because it could pull away from OG markets. With a lot of onboarding product, it might make OG farmers nervous. We are transitioning some ground right now. For us it’s financially better to cover crop for 3 years. Soil building, not worried about the long list of concerns that are in the data. Also, I agree that this land has to be developed, and it’s hard to build organic matter up, especially if trying to grow crop organically and sell it at a conventional price. Is that an idea- that we’re going to transition these acres, instead of building soil for 3 years and timing it right and coming off with an organic crop. Transition production is higher and price point is lower.

Brise: we are aware of the economic challenges of that transition period. As we build these transitioning resources in we have to make sure the markets are there. Major challenge. Long term contracts are beneficial for growers.

Logan: Transition would be at a premium?

Brise: That would be our hope.

Logan: BIPOC: did you correlate regions and time of farming for BIPOC farmers? Maybe research could be devoted to that region. Most BIPOC conventional farmers are in the south per the public comment.

Thelma: We did not break down our BIPOC map by state and region. We only had so much time. Great idea. More are in the south, and maybe more in urban spaces, which could come with a greater challenge as well.

Nate: Good example of why we have farmers on the board. Supposition that farmers want transition markets in field crops and row crops. My experience has been grow cover crops and don’t confuse people with transition markets.

Brian: I would second what Nate said about the T label thing. Want to put a plug in for LONG TERM organic cropping systems trials. We can’t learn about soil impacts on a 3-4 year funding cycle. When I was at Cornell, I worked on 3 long term trials, 2 are no longer functioning. Trouble after year 8-10 or 12… plug for these long term systems. I remember when we were excited when OREI hit $9 mil. Findings emerge in the 15th=20th or later years.

Thelma: Full alignment with that. Pushes in ARS…. we would like to see more of these. They have a lot to offer. 2 years not much 10-30 years tells us a lot more.

Brise: Of $1.7 Bil, spending $12 mil on Organic research activity… Organic research advocacy day, folks are welcome to join us.

Kyla Smith: I was going to echo what Wood said earlier. Appreciated seeing how research priorities link to projects out there. Somebody’s listening. Have some gaps to fill. It seems the research agenda aligns with the focus areas of the Organic Transition Initiative. Is there anything else the partners sheparding the agreements need to know.

Brise: Yes, we’ve been a squeaky wheel about our recommendations about advancing Organic Transition. We need to create more resources that are usable and accessible for farmers. We need to figure out how farmers want to receive information and make sure they can find it easily and readily. Farmers are often left alone to find solutions. I believe in the structural changes as well. Farmers look to other farmers, but we need to help extension agents meet farmer needs.

Thelma: Coordinated market development and mentorship in business planning and market development. Something that would help us and other orgs, better system for tracking and Id’ing transitioning growers. Did they pull out? Are they completing transition? What were there struggles? Need to track them and their process.

Javier: As a grower I hear Logan and others, in certain areas you can afford to transition by planting cover crop. IN central coast you can’t afford to transition- you have 5, 10 acres of land. Selling production in a marketplace that is not ready to support transition at a smaller scale. You said some of your research is to find out what is going on and presenting findings to USDA. WHat happened after that. WE know how the BIPOC issues are. We could spend a day talking about them. What did USDA say. WE need to take action. WIth all the research in a shell- it’s just there. We need to go beyond that. Let’s act on it.

Brise: We agree with you. There’s more need to have back and forth of information and sharing. We try to play our role, but there’s so much more to do. WE are fortunate in CA to have a lot of partners. Thelma is working with other folks in CA to translate our soil health research information into spanish. A lot is going to USDA projects, but we can be an ally to make this usable by farmers. It has been heard and asked.

Materials Subcommittee (MS)

Wood Turner, Chair

Research Priorities
Wood: We’re voting this through, but wanted to thank Brise and Thelma and flag the feedback we got. Bigger strategic conversations. Process for our proposal- rolling proposal over several years. Other things added to the list. Living document.

Every year we spend 5-10 minutes at the fall meeting over voting through this process. But we also get lots and lots of feedback in the comments. We cannot incorporate all of those comments into the document, but I want to tell people that we hear all of them, and they will go into our process. I want to remind everyone that this is a living, rolling process, and that we are hearing all of the comments. We certainly spend a lot of time thinking about whether they can/should be included in the list. That’s why I asked if this is a list that just goes on and on and on and on and on, or is it a concise document? And I think that it’s somewhere in between.

Each subcommittee discusses their area among themselves and brings it back to the MS. Thank you.

We had good feedback from the community. A continuing list of items that we will continue to move forward. We had a couple different competing research priorities – ag commodities and our typical ones. There was a little bit of blurring between the two, but I think that we can bring them back together.

There was a lot of attempts by organizations to help us prioritize and rank some of the priorities, and I think that could be an exercise that we bring more energy to as we move forward. I do not think there is anything in our numbering system that indicates the priority of the topic. Brise’s presentation makes me think that we should be doing that to try to make sure that some of these items get the attention they deserve.

I wanted to flag one thing on the copper sulfate research priority. It was always intended to be on last year’s research priorities, and I think it got downplayed. It has always been something that the community considers a high priority. I wanted to make sure that was clear.

Nate Powell-Palm: Whenever we have a system like farming, we are going to have pain points. This is an opportunity to say where are farmer’s hurting and where can we have opportunities to address the process.

Brian Caldwell: Changed the wording on the invasives – to include noninvasive weeds that are issues. Wanted to make that a little broader.

Nate Powell-Palm: Motion to accept the proposal – motioned by Wood; seconded by Brian.

VOTE: 15 yes, 0 no, 0 abstentions/recusals

Motion Passes.

Excluded Methods
Wood Turner: I would like to acknowledge all of the work that Mindee Jeffrey has brought to the Committee’s work on Excluded Methods. It is very detail-oriented work. There is a lot to understand. A continual amount of admiration for Mindee.

Mindee Jeffrey: If you google the meeting page, you will find that the NOP responded to the Materials Subcommittee’s recommendation from this past meeting in April 2022. The recommendation is to adopt formal language for Excluded Methods. AMS is considering it. This recommendation includes a table developed by the Board over several years. This table lists several technologies and terminologies as to whether they should be considered excluded methods as defined by the USDA organic regulations. This recommendation adds determinations for cell and protoplast fusion to the table. AMS response: AMS thanks the NOSB for their work on this complex topic. AMS is reviewing the Board’s recommendation to update the NOP Program Handbook, including the possible edition of this document on Excluded Methods.

I appreciate the tone of yesterday’s conversation indicating the USDA’s commitment to open and collaborative dialogue. In that light, respectfully, stakeholders, consumers, and previous boards have been unanimous in upholding the excluded methods provisions, including the part of those definitions that refer to gene editing techniques. We are united in the understanding that this organic system has positioned all forms of genetic manipulation as excluded from organic systems, just as if we have prohibited other substances, natural or synthetic. I also appreciate that when stakeholder groups have questioned USDA on this issue, the USDA has responded by saying, “We appreciate your initiative in discussing the role of gene editing with your members and sharing the outcome with USDA. Genetically modified organisms, including gene editing, are considered excluded methods, and are prohibited in organic agriculture under the USDA Organic Regulations.

So, looking forward to the work that we have in front of us. I am excited about the level of expertise sitting currently on the board given the work that is present on the TBD list. It is our intention to work on definitions for the remaining terms and techniques, and to use the open docket for feedback from stakeholders in advance of the deadline for proposals for the spring 2020, which means we will need your help in ensuring that interested stakeholders are aware of the opportunity to provide information through that venue.

I would like to thank OSA for the State of the Organic Seed Report. Advancing the TBD list work is important for continuous improvement and growth in the organic seed sector. The Materials Subcommittee appreciates all the efforts and education around this particular area of organic systems, and we look forward to receiving our community’s input and expertise while we make our way through these discussion documents and proposals.

Livestock Subcommittee (LS)

Kim Huseman, Chairperson, introduces the Subcommittee agenda.

Kim Huseman: We have a handful of sunsets to get through today. That is where LS focused its time without any other proposals or petitions to sort.

2024 Sunset substances reviews:


Kim Huseman: Chlorhexidine is listed under 205.603 as a disinfectant sanitizer and medical treatments as applicable for medical procedures conducted under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian allowed for the use as a dip when alternative journals title agents and or physical barriers have lost their effectiveness.

Through both the spring and fall public comment, consistent messaging from stakeholders. Dairy folks in full support as surgical procedure and alternative pre/post teat dip when other options not effective. Having it as an alternative in a powder form in the N is beneficial. Consistent comments in spring/fall questioning the need as a teat dip when there are other products available on the National list. That’s one consideration to make. Overall, the support for the use has been positive. The annotation for the teat dip was brought up by a few of the stakeholders.

Nate Powell-Palm: I hope everyone who has taken an IOIA class in here has way too many questions about Chlorhexidine in our curriculum- and I hope it’s triggering you.

Motion: To remove Chlorhexidine from the National List. (No is to keep; Yes is to remove.)

VOTE: 0 yes, 15 no, 0 abstentions/recusals

Motion Fails.


Reference: §205.603(a) As disinfectants, sanitizer, and medical treatments as applicable.

(13) Glucose.

Liz Graznak: Glucose is a synthetic substance allowed in organic livestock production for medical treatment. For animal health purposes, glucose is used primarily as an aid in the treatment of ketosis in cattle. Additionally, glucose is an important remedy for dehydration, neonatal hypoglycemia, as an ingredient in formulated electrolyte solutions, and as an excipient. For not being a cattle person, I think of it as giving them a big shot of Gatorade. Comments were primarily in favor of keeping it on the list. Questions?

Nate Powell-Palm: So grateful for how all Board members are in helping other members in get their sea legs. Well done, Liz.

Motion to remove glucose from the National List Motion by: Liz Graznak

Seconded by: Kim Huseman

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.


Amy Bruch: We are at Section 205.603(a). And this is part eight as disinfectant sanitizer and medical treatment as a clickable. And then, lastly, goes on to say Federal law restricts this drug to be used by more on lawful written or oral order of a licensed veterinarian, and full compliance with the FDA regulations, and then also for you, under 702.5 requires one use by or on the lawful written order of a licensed veterinarian to use only to reverse the effects of sedation caused by as I was 18, and three me withdrawal period of at least eight days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter and a milk discard period of at least four days after administered and ministering to dairy animals so there’s quite a few restrictions with this substance here.

It reverses the sedation by Xylazine, so they are used in tandem. We will review Xylazine at a later time. That was a comment, that we should couple when we review these two substances, and in 2026, we will make that change. That was a comment from stakeholders. This substances is not listed for approval by CODEX or IFOAM. There were few comments in support of this. Use is rare, but when needed, it is necessary. There were some concerns expressed by two advocacy groups, but in general the community was in favor of keeping this on the list. Questions/Comments?

Motion to remove tolazoline from the National List Motion by: Amy Bruch

Seconded by: Kim Huseman

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion Fails.

Copper sulfate

Reference: §205.603(b) As topical treatment, external parasiticide or local anesthetic as applicable.

(1) Copper sulfate.

Copper sulfate is listed on the National List of Allowed and Synthetic Substances for use in organic livestock production at § 205.603 as a topical treatment, external parasiticide or local anesthetic.

Nate Powell-Palm: When we think about the tools in the toolbox, we have copper sulfate listed as noted above. Copper ions have been reported to have antimicrobial activity against a wide range of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria and fungi. It is one of those tools that help prevent hoof disease. We have consistently heard that this is essential and we still do not have a good alternative.

Wood Turner: Want to encourage this committee, when you are compiling Research Priorities for next year, that this should be included.

Mindee Jeffrey: What do you think about the annotation suggestions?

Nate Powell-Palm: those relying on it, requested broader use. Tangible, important tool. Limiting without their request would be a mistake.

Subcommittee Vote: Motion to remove copper sulfate from the National List Motion by: Nate Powell-Palm

Seconded by: Brian Caldwell

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.


Reference: §205.603(b) As topical treatment, external parasiticide or local anesthetic as applicable.

(5) Lidocaine—as a local anesthetic. Use requires a withdrawal period of 8 days after administering to livestock intended for slaughter and 6 days after administering to dairy animals.

Nate Powell-Palm: When we talk about animal welfare, organic plays a big role. When we think about pain management in organic, we are very serious that we are really interested in making sure that we have practices and procedures and tools that minimize animal pain. If we look to the dairy industry, to some amount we are going to have some amount of disbudding and dehorning, so we need to think about how to apply a local anesthetic. This is a tool that everyone across the board said was essential.

Motion to remove lidocaine from the National List Motion by: Nate Powell-Palm. Seconded by: Amy Bruch.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Crops Subcommittee (CS)

Rick Greenwood, Chairperson

Rick Greenwood: We had a busy season talking about different materials for crops, including a lot of discussion on bio-based mulch film (BBMF).

When we get to BBMF, there were lots of comments about plastics as well; I want to remind people that BBMF is at its sunset review now. We need a work agenda on plastic and plastic components.

Nate: We heard a lot of concern about plastic, rightly so. Especially with climate change. We are not going to discuss plastics here; we are going to corral it in other business. It’s just not going to be part of the discussion of the sunset at hand.

Petition for: Potassium Hydroxide as a production aid in the production of liquid fish products

The petition states that the intent is to use potassium hydroxide as a processing aid to facilitate emulsion of the invasive carp species to help support extraction of soluble organic compounds from the fish by means of alkaline hydrolysis. The petitioner states that the amount of potassium hydroxide used should be limited to the amount necessary for emulsion of the fish and once the process is completed phosphoric acid will be used to stabilize the product.

Rick Greenwood: Petition to use to liquefy invasive carp as a liquid fertilizer. The community is against this petition. Potassium hydroxide is already on the National List, but we questioned whether we needed something specific for this process.

Brian Caldwell: Deep questions are that there are plenty of fish fertilizer products already available and I didn’t understand why we need a new method here. Totally in favor of mitigating invasive carp. The use of potassium hydroxide to dissolve fish requires raising the pH of the mixture. This is a synthetic source of potassium. To lower the pH down again so it’s shelf stable we have to add synthetic phosphorus. Essentially the product is mostly synthetic nutrients with some fish in it.

Kyla Smith: What is the benefit of sending it back to Subcommittee? What more do we have to learn?

Rick Greenwood: Gives the petitioner a chance to respond with other methods in how they can respond and use this invasive carp. If we vote it down then petitioner can still come back but it would be a whole new petition.

Carolyn: Explain to a non-farmer what this product is?

Rick: Basically liquid fish fertilizer; the question is: how do you liquefy it? Caustic materials and the end product will have more synthetics in it. There are mechanical methods for chopping up fish. So the question is can the invasive carp be turned into something useful for organic farmer without increasing the synthetic compounds.

Wood: The petition though is for the substance. For adding potassium hydroxide.

Rick: Yes, it’s already on the list but this is for a specific process.

Nate: Appreciate the petitioners presentation. Evidence the community is trying to innovate. Emulsified fish is already part of our industry. We shouldn’t conflate this material with trying to conflate not having the petitioner give up. We love your idea, you are just missing a few steps. I don’t see sending this back to subcommittee is useful, but gratitude for the idea is needed.

Kyla: The petitioner said they hadn’t tried other extractants and was just using the facility he had pre-existing. The crops subcommittee shouldn’t be doing more work on a material that isn’t wanted.

Rick: The community does not seem to want it.

Kim: The petitioner was currently patenting their current process, so they may not be interested in trying to change their process. I think using invasives as fertilizer is encouraging.

Classification: Potassium hydroxide is on the National List, and already classified as synthetic.

National List Motion: Motion to add potassium hydroxide to the National List as a processing aid at 205.601 Motion by: Rick Greenwood

Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore

2 Yes (Jerry D’Amore & Rick Greenwood), 13 no. Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

The motion fails.

Herbicides, soap-based

Reference: §205.601(b) As herbicides, weed barriers, as applicable.

(1) Herbicides, soap-based—for use in farmstead maintenance (roadways, ditches, right of ways, building perimeters) and ornamental crops.

Technical Report: 1996 TAP; 2015 TR. Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: Actions: 1996 recommendation; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation.

Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Rick Greenwood: These have been around for a long time. They are reasonably popular, but I sometimes wonder how effective they are, having used them myself. Written comments were positive for keeping them on, with no one strictly against them. They are basically a fatty acid that has been turned into soap. There is general agreement globally. There really aren’t any environmental concerns for them. A use of something that is fairly benign.

Majority of stakeholders are in favor.

Mindee Jeffrey: This isn’t on crops; it’s around the homestead.

Brian Caldwell: There are other sprayable, herbicides that can be used for that purpose.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds herbicides, soap-based compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove herbicides, soap-based from the National List Motion by: Rick Greenwood

Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore

Yes: 1 (Brian Caldwell) No: 14 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Boric acid

Reference: §205.601(e) As insecticides (including acaricides or mite control). (3) Boric acid – structural pest control, no direct contact with organic food or crops.

Technical Report: 1995 TAP. Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 04/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Wood Turner: Material is very common in household pest control. As insecticides (including acaricides or mite control) and structural pest control, with no direct contact with organic food or crops. Material we heard from many in the community about its necessity in controlling ants and roaches in particular. Healthy debate over the years over the fact it’s a material that is not entirely benign, though GRAS. Preferable to other alternatives for these uses.

Reflected in the comments. Historical comments about whether or not there are alternatives, but generally nothing better. Generally, the community is aligned. There were a couple of comments around annotations, but most of the feedback. 9 of the written comments in support of relisting, 1 in opposition, and points regarding annotation. Facing no good alternatives.

Questions? None.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds boric acid compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove boric acid from the National List Motion by: Wood Turner

Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Sticky traps/barriers

Reference: §205.601(e) As insecticides (including acaricides or mite control). (9) Sticky traps/barriers.

Technical Report: 1995 TAP. Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 10/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation.

Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Rick Greenwood: Overwhelming support from stakeholders to keep this on the list for monitoring, attacting and sticking pests to keep them out of the way. Broad support. It does have a hydrocarbon on it, but no contact with any of the potential food that is being grown. Used in pest control and monitoring and used with traps as a production aid. Does not come into contact with food. Used in limited quantities and sometimes on tree trunks. Listing covers a wide range of traps and coatings. Some of the traps do have petroleum wax, but overall, a very benign material. Generally positive comments on the written comments.


[Unknown NOSB speaker]: I did read that they can sometimes catch beneficial bugs. Not a solution that I know of, but wanted to make it clear that it’s not discriminatory to what it catches.

Rick Greenwood: Generally speaking, because of the colors used on these, it catches mainly the pests. We’re not in 100% world, I guess.

Javier Zamora: I think that sticky traps are a tool that we have in different settings. My concern was justs mentioned. They are usually blue or gold, and the beneficials when they get stuck there, they do die. But are there any other substitutions that we might be using? It sounds like this has been taken for granted because it’s not in contact with a crop.

Rick Greenwood: I do not know if there is anything else. These are relatively inexpensive. There might not be a financial incentive to look for something else.

Liz Graznak: Pretty much we use them in controlled high and low tunnel environments. The amount of time that they are up is really limited. You are trying to target pre-hatching of the insect that you’re looking for so that you can spray for that particular insect that you are looking for, and then you can take them down. AS soon as you can ID the cucumber beetle, you can take them down. The amount of time they are up isn’t long, and definitely in controlled situations.

Rick Greenwood: I do not think I can answer Javier’s question, but I think they are so easy to use and so cheap, do not know if anyone is working on it.

Javier Zamora: I think there might be an opportunity to look into something else. There are other growers, maybe not organic, that might be using something more natural.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds sticky traps/barriers compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.
Vote: Motion to remove sticky traps/barriers from the National List Motion by: Rick Greenwood. Seconded by: Amy Bruch

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Elemental sulfur

Reference: §205.601(h) As slug or snail bait. (2) Elemental sulfur.

Technical Report: 1995 TAP; 2018 TR. Petition: 2017.

Past NOSB Actions: 04/2018 recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Added to National List on 11/22/2019 (84 FR 56673).

Sunset Date: 11/22/2024

Brian Caldwell: The situation with sulfur, it is used in a lot of different applications in organic agriculture. This was a new addition in 2019 as slug or snail bait. In terms of the comments, basically there were 5 in favor of relisting, 1 against, and 1 that said a review was needed. A couple said that even though it wasn’t widely used according to certifier surveys, since it was only available since 2019, we need more time for the grower community to see if they will use it more. The somewhat tricky issue comes in with the “inert” ingredients. These products are made with basically 99% “inerts.” This once again raises the importance of us being able to deal with “inerts” in these formulations. The reason it is so important here is that the sulfur use seems to be very safe and have little impact. There is another product – ferric phosphate – used for the same purpose. But wat has come up is that one of the inerts that is used for that is on the old list 4, so it is Defacto in use and approved, but it makes the material toxic to dogs, and there have been some issues where dogs have gotten sick. In fact, the history of this is that the ferric phosphate product was brought up for relisting under sunset, and almost voted won, but it was felt that there was almost no alternative. Since no till was becoming more popular, and that leads to more slugs and snails, we wanted a product. With this sulfur in use in organic, that may change that. BUT, the fact that 99% of this product are inerts, and in the ferric phosphate the interaction with the inert has made the product toxic to dogs, this is an important issue. It is unknown what the 99% of inerts are…it is like a 99% black box. The actual elemental sulfur active ingredient in these products seems very benign, is safe, and has low environmental impact, but we are once again commended to really do something about our inert situation. That is kind of a side issue, not the focus of this material, but it brings it up very clearly.

Written comments – 5 in favor, 1 against, 2 more data is needed, others noted that we need to address this inert issue.


Mindee Jeffrey: I appreciated the commenters making sure we had our history right and potentially the next review could help us understand how we are functioning there.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds elemental sulfur compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove elemental sulfur from the National List Motion by: Brian Caldwell. Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Coppers, fixed and Copper Sulfate

Reference: §205.601(i) As plant disease control. (2) Coppers, fixed —copper hydroxide, copper oxide, copper oxychloride, includes products exempted from EPA tolerance, Provided, That, copper-based materials must be used in a manner that minimizes accumulation in the soil and shall not be used as herbicides.

Technical Report: 1995 TAP; 2011 TR. Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 10/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 4/2011 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Jerry D’Amore: Admired the degree of brevity that we’ve done these Sunsets. Coppers can be a very nasty one, and I want to give that side of it the proper time. We will be discussing these materials together but voting on the separately. Copper is made from the byproducts of processing copper ore, and are considered synthetic. Both are hazardous to human health and the environment; despite this the use has been extended because there isn’t a viable alternative. IFOAM only mentions copper as soil amendment and trace soil nutrient.

At the Crops Subcommittee (CS) we considered copper compounds that they readily dissolve in water, are highly toxic, bind to soil, accumulate in clay soils. Widespread use of copper compounds has led to copper-resistant pests. There is a link between copper and Alzheimer’s disease; and linked to health issues in agricultural workers. In July 2022, the CS received a draft copy of the TR which is sound and efficient. There is update information on the human health concerns. We had some questions that went back to the TR writer and it went back to them. It’s now available for stakeholders to review.

The TR is clear: If you are outside the parameters of acceptable tolerance the consequences could be more dire than historically thought. The sopper sulfate can cause Alzheimer’s and diabetes (which then leads to Alzheimer’s). It does not appear that the goal post concerning acceptable tolerances have been moved. There is a band of tolerance that has a certain width; so, if you stay in those parameters, it’s okay.

Stakeholder comments: 22 written comments, most from the industry. Most of the respondents spoke to the dangers of the continued use of copper. No one recommended the de-listing of copper.

Brian Caldwell: The TR that has just come in: all those questions that expanded our knowledge were all because of Jerry, so thank you for your real concern and care. There are many new biological controls coming on the market. It’s really exciting. Some of them may allow us to get away from copper use.

Javier Zamora: It’s a substance that some growers rely heavily on. If it’s not being carefully used it can kill arm workers. I am with Brian: we need to come up with a substitute or limit/have a budget on how much can be used. Apple growers use it a lot, and cane berry people. At what stage is it used the most? During dormancy? Flowering? Or prior to harvest?

Brian Caldwell: In terms of apple production, used early in season around bloom time for fire blight. At post-harvest it can be used to sanitize the trees.

Logan Petrey: To fight bacterial diseases, we don’t use it for fungi much anymore because we have polyoxin D. It does depend on the crops. It can be phytotoxic, so the rain rates change how much is used. Our use of coppers have been reduced due to finding better fungicides.

Amy Bruch: Grain crop scenario: we get a lot of hail so we apply copper as a crop protectant after hail storms due to injury points on corn plants. We follow Kinsey Albretch(?) formula for soil archetype feeding. This program runs from wine rape to corn to everything in between. This program state 21ppm is excessive in my soil, I have 5-10ppm which is considered excellent. You have to apply copper at a decent level to raise it in the soil. The mathematics behind copper is very important. It’s kind of like lime in your soil: you don’t need to apply it year after year.

Carolyn Dimitri: What crops is this used in, how widespread is the use of it? I thought it was mostly apples and grapes.

Liz Granak: Potentially all crop production. Tomatoes, grains, rice, tree fruit.

Carolyn Dimitri: So, the economic damage isn’t primarily to grapes like the report we have here says.

Javier Zamora: As a grower, I know there is value as a nutrient. The usage on what would be harmful – that’s one of my main concerns. Yes, there are a lot of rules for application; there is obviously a need, but we need to look forward and get away from these things.

Allison Johnson: Thank you for the detailed and balanced presentation. Representing the voices of farm workers balanced with organic farm community: these materials are particularly tricky. Concern of industry collapse, but often when a material is removed life seems to go on.

Brian Caldwell: For tomatoes, in contrast with apples it can be used up to a day or two before harvest. So, you can have some residues on the fruit. Those residues are there but not toxic to consumers.

Wood Turner: Struggling with same issues as Allsion. Are we comfortable with the way this is listed in the listing. I don’t want to conflate all these issues: are we doing enough as an NOSB to move these concerns along?

Nate Powell-Palm: Give Jerry credit to looking at this as a different discussion. Farmer take: don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. There would be rapid pollution decreases if we adopted organic production instead of conventional production.

Kyla: Copper does say that it cannot be used in a way that accumulates copper in the soil. Tracked via testing and producers show they are compliant with soil testing.

Nate Powell-Palm: So, if you have this product on your inputs list as a farmer, your certifier is going to flag it as something to watch.

Jerry D’Amore: Thank you for that. My first initiation to this substance was in aquatic uses. It alarmed me so much that I really went out of my way to figure out what exactly happens on the ground, how long do you keep the records? At that level, I really derived a great sense of satisfaction and comfort that it is being watched, records are being kept, and things are staying in check. That was going to be my last piece, to call on a certifier. So, thank you.

: I think it would be great to have ACA and other certifiers articular how they respond to this material. I think that is something Jerry raised that is interesting to me.

Amy Bruch: On Copper sulfate – from a farmer point of view, this element is really expensive. I did the calculations, and you need a lot of lbs to raise the amount in the soil. Because of the expense, as farmers, we are really careful with it. You need special equipment to deliver this to your soil – 5 lbs/acre – we need specialized equipment that can deliver that amount to our crops. On our farm, we only apply it in certain areas on one field because of the expense. There is a difference when it is applied like we discussed last year in rice production in water, and how that is digested, compared to applying it in the soil.

Mindee Jeffrey: I also feel the pain of the decision-making here, and I appreciate that what I might characterize what I consider our more conservative stakeholders are acknowledging the pain of this decision but also support relisting.

Kyla Smith: We are talking about coppers fixed here, and copper sulfate for plant disease control. I do think that some of the comments you are making, Amy, go under micronutrients. Logan was giving examples more relevant to this particular listing, and when I was talking about certifier oversight, I was speaking specifically to that and the accumulation in the soil. When we get to micronutrients and talk about copper, again, then there is a separate annotation that we can talk about.

Logan Petrey: To Wood about making progress with copper… Even in the conventional world, copper has been around a long time, it is about the only bactericide that we use because we do not use a lot of antibiotics for agriculture. I do not know how much we can expect to get away from copper. Bacteria is always going to be an issue and can cause complete crop failure. I do not see this getting off the list. I do not see a whole lot of progress. I think the progress made is to follow the label. As long as the growers are following that and following the rules. There isn’t much innovation to be done there.

Rick Greenwood: 1 – for our stakeholders, I think you can see the kind of discussions that we have on these compounds. There is a lot of in-depth work, a lot of research, and a lot of pain, too. No one wants to have some of these compounds around, and you are forced on this committee to make these decisions about things that you don’t really want, but you sort of need. Again, in the subcommittee we have really in-depth discussions with a lot of knowledgeable people and people who dig in. Particularly with the sunsets, we have gotten way deep on these things and do not rubberstamp them.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds coppers, fixed compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote:Motion to remove coppers, fixed from the National List Motion by: Jerry D’Amore. Seconded by: Brian Caldwell

Yes: 2 (Allison Johnson, Wood Turner) No: 13 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Copper sulfate (vote)

Reference: §205.601(i) As plant disease control. (3) Copper sulfate – Substance must be used in a manner that minimizes accumulation of copper in the soil.

Technical Report: 1995 TAP; 2011 TR. Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 10/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 4/2011 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Jerry D’Amore: See Copper, fixed.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds copper sulfate compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove copper sulfate from the National List Motion by: Jerry D’Amore. Seconded by: Amy Bruch.

Yes: 2 (Allison Johnson, Wood Turner) No: 13 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Polyoxin D zinc salt

Reference: §205.601(i) As plant disease control. (11) Polyoxin D zinc salt.

Technical Report: 2012 TR; 2017 Limited Scope TR.

Petition: 2016 (Addendum #1, #2, #3).

Past NOSB Actions: 04/2018 recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Added to National List on 11/22/2019 (84 FR 56673).

Sunset Date: 11/22/2024

Brian Caldwell: Timing is excellent, coming right after copper. This may be an alternative to copper. It is a microbial product, classed as synthetic because polyoxin D degrades quickly, so they make it into a zinc salt. It is an effective as fungicide. Alternatives may not be economically effective.

The way that Polyoxin D works is that is inhibits pathways of chitin formation, a critical part of fungi and insects. There are questions as to whether PD would have negative effects on soil biota, particularly insets in the soil. The counter to that is that it is not very persistent, even though it has that zinc ion on it, and the half-life is considered to be 16 days in the soil, and 2.3 days when exposed to sunlight. Relatively short periods. Low toxicity to humans, animals, and bacterial, plants. For earth worms, there was a quote in the TR that the EPA deemed the effects to be below the level of concern for earthworms. There were 8 in favor of relisting, 1 against, 2 said look closer, and in particular that we needed more research on the effects of PD on soil fungi and insects. This is, the way I see it, the avenue of reducing some of the other fungicides that are less desirable.

Allison Johnson: I see the note about the potential for cross resistance, and I’m curious for more information on this and how widespread the use is.

Brian Caldwell: Possible effects if similar products were used in human medicine… I was pretty concerned about this when I first took it on, but it really seemed that the comments from the community in general is that PD is not currently used against human fungal diseases, which it would seem to have the potential for. I do not remember the exact reason, but it would take a huge amount of it in the human body to be effective. It seemed that the concern for crossover by people who know about this did not rise to a level of concern.

Dilip Nandwani: Thanks. Wonderful insight. Quickly, you mentioned that it could be an alternative to copper. Is it a viable alternative in the future? Could it be acceptable from stakeholders and community as a replacement?

Brian Caldwell: Important distinction is that polyoxin D is effective against fungi but not bacteria. Hopefully we will find other alternatives for bacterial diseases. Copper used to be used for the first line of defense for all diseases. But this material is even better for these kinds of pathogens, better than copper.

Mindee Jeffrey: Did this come on the list in 2019? (Yes.) I did see the suggestion that we might need a little more time on this one because it is a fairly new substance. It says that it was a 2018 recommendation, even though the TR was from 2012.

Jared: It was added in 2019.

Logan Petrey: It is new to organic, because we would have been using it earlier than last year.

Indie: This previous NOSB voted this substance onto the list, so we should keep paying attention to the concerns but keep moving it forward.

Brian Caldwell: This product is used in very small quantities per acre, as well, which is a plus.

Logan Petrey: That is a good point. Copper is used 1-2 lbs/acre. PD is used at 8 fl oz or something like that. If you were to use quavo, which is a liquid copper, the amount is much smaller.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds that polyoxin D zinc salt continues to be compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove polyoxin D zinc salt from the National List Motion by: Brian Caldwell. Seconded by: Amy Bruch

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Humic acids

Reference: §205.601(j) As plant or soil amendments. 3) Humic acids-naturally occurring deposits, water and alkali extracts only.

Technical Report: 1996 TAP; 2006 TR; 2012 TR (oxidized lignite/humic acid derivatives). Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 09/1996 minutes and vote; 4/2006 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Amy Bruch: From naturally occurring deposits. Use is soil or foliar applied. Humic acids affect soil fertility by making micronutrients that are already in the soil more available to plants – mainly as catalyst. Widespread use of this substance in the community. Environmental issues; couple commenters commented on the harm of mining. A lot of commenters in favor, many stated it provides benefits to their farms. One certifier noted 718 members had this on their OSP. Helps those liter solids maintain nutritional benefit. However, there is a lack of analysis on the efficacy of these products. Additional thing: looking at actual extractant itself – not a limit on the type of extractant used. Potassium hydroxide is the most common extractant. Other extractants don’t have frameworks for assessment. Looking at the framework of synthetic extractants is important and we can take that back to Subcommittee for review. Previous NOSB actions found this compliant with OFPA.

Thirteen commenters in favor of humic acids from all functional groups. Humic acids are widely used in various crops. Most of the comments were more towards produce or tree fruits. One certifier mentioned that there were over 1700 members with it on their OSP. One certifier and advocacy group asked fo more information –noted it was “mining the of the past to feed the present.” One advocacy group wanted removal. One material review organization brought up information on fortification. The current annotation—the recommendation was that we actually beef the annotation up because there are no guardrails around this. This does not limit what product can be used outside of alkali extractions only. The annotation is vague, and I would recommend adding it to the agenda to make it more clear. There is one reference to aquatic plant extract, which is still gray but a bit better, but I think we can push it further. There are also recommendations to annotate it in terms of use up to a certain pH level. We are not currently voting on the annotation, but this could potentially have more work to be done on it.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds humic acids compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove humic acids from the National List Motion by: Amy Bruch. Seconded by: Rick Greenwood.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Micronutrients: Soluble boron products

Reference: §205.601(j) As plant or soil amendments. (7) Micronutrients—not to be used as a defoliant, herbicide, or desiccant. Those made from nitrates or chlorides are not allowed. Micronutrient deficiency must be documented by soil or tissue testing or other documented and verifiable method as approved by the certifying agent. (i) Soluble boron products.

Technical Report: 2010 TR (Micronutrients). Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 04/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 micronutrient annotation change; 11/2017 sunset recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 1/28/2019 (83 FR 66559)

Sunset Date: 01/28/2024

Amy Bruch: Boron is a crop micronutrient that can be soil or foliar applied. We asked for a new TR this year because boron was coupled with the other micronutrients, and we wanted to do our due diligence on this one. Deficiency in boron is common. This has been on NL since it was listed in 2000. It is permitted for use in international basis. Mined substance. Thirteen comments in support of this product. One comment to note is that soluble boron products are an essential product for plant development. Two comments that stated they do not oppose listing. One group noted they are in favor of delisting. Asked if there were enough non synthetic borates, such as borax, to meet the needs of organic producers.

Brian Caldwell: I was not quick enough if you wanted me to say something in that past discussion. Why is boron separate from everything else in this listing? Do you have the history for that?

Amy Bruch: I do not know. Jared, any idea why it is separate?

Jared: Not off the top of my head.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds soluble boron compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove soluble boron from the National List Motion by: Amy Bruch. Seconded by: Jerry D’Amore.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Vitamins C and E

Reference: §205.601(j) As plant or soil amendments. (9) Vitamins C, and E.

Technical Report: 1995 TAP; 2015 TR. Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 10/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation (relist C and E, remove B 1).

Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Wood Turner: TR as recently as 2015. Generally considered nontoxic. Vit C & E are used to promote both growth and yields. Previously bundled with Vitamin B1. In the previous sunset review, B1 was recommended for removal from the List on the basis that the material did not definitively not stimulate root growth in some crops.

There is some concern that we do not know enough about these materials and if they actually work. Feedback from the community was split down the middle – 3 supported delisting, and 3 delisting. Discussion tends to be about whether or not the material is effective or essential. That is a debated topic among the community. Those that support keeping it on the list and suggest that it is being used in small quantities and is particularly important in some fruit production. There are some certifiers that say they have a number of members using the material.

In our discussion, we consider it to be compliant with OFPA and did not suggest removal.

Questions? None.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds vitamins C and E compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove vitamins C and E from §205.601(j) of the National List Motion by: Wood Turner. Seconded by: Brian Caldwell

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Lead salts

Reference: §205.602(d) Lead salts.

Technical Report: N/A Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 04/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation. Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Javier Zamora: Non synthetic prohibited material that have adverse health consequences. Most of comments—if not all—suggested that it remain on the prohibited naturals list, and Board members agree.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee supports continued prohibition of lead salts and is not proposing removal from the National List.

Vote: Motion to remove lead salts from the National List Motion by: Javier Zamora. Seconded by: Amy Bruch

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0

Motion fails.

Proposal: Carbon Dioxide – petitioned

Summary of Petition: The NOSB received a petition requesting the addition of synthetic carbon dioxide (CO2) at § 205.601 Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production as (a) algicide, disinfectants, and sanitizer, including irrigation system cleaning systems and (j) As plant or soil amendments.

Carbon dioxide is currently allowed for use as an ingredient in organic labeled processed food products: § 205.605 Nonagricultural (nonorganic) substances allowed as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)).” (b) Synthetic allowed: – Carbon dioxide. This petition requests the allowance of carbon dioxide in organic crop production under the two sections listed above.

Logan Petrey: Moved J to the spring. Just going to talk about (a)- for that use. Most comments have been in favor of needing this or it being a good alternative. Good fit because it’s a safer product.

Understood to be a low risk material. Have it as a processing aid. Nonsynthetic sources not readily available. Not a sufficient supply. Also at 205.605 in processing for the same reason.

What is the need and why do we need to reduce pH or clean out lines. Drip lines. Drip has small emitters for water to be able to leach out. They get clogged up by bicarbonates or algal build up. Lowering pH can clean out these lines. Using this is to be able to flush out. We saw commentors for people who run into this issue. Some groups said they didn’t have farmers who requested the need, maybe they didn’t have farmers who use pH adjusters. Those who do want to have this as an alternative.

Because carbon dioxide is approved as an organic processing substance, is already being produced, and its listing at § 205.601(a) would be considered a recycling process, the Crops Subcommittee finds it compatible with a system of sustainable agriculture.

The Crops Subcommittee is seeking additional information about the requested use at § 205.601(j) and will develop a proposal for a future NOSB meeting.

Item J: is set for spring with a TR.

Alternatives: sulfur burners and citric acid. Pure sulfur is odorless, tasteless, and can be irritating to the skin and eyes. Can be a respiratory concern. Some growers are interested in this. Lower risk and easier to use. As far as any biproducts that come off of it, carbonic acid is a natural deal.


Allison: Repeat or clarify that this is from a recycling process – pulling it from atmosphere and using it?

Logan: No, it’s from plants. When it is captured: they are shoving CO2 into mines/holes in the ground from some kind of manufacturing process; this is used instead of releasing it or shoving it into the ground. It is being pulled off from byproduct process.

Rick: Came out of committee, motioned by Logan, 6 of us were in favor of adding it. 2 were absent at that meeting.

National List Motion: Motion to add carbon dioxide at § 205.601(a) algicide, disinfectants, and sanitizer, including irrigation system cleaning systems

Motion by: Logan Petrey Seconded by: Rick Greenwood.

Yes: 15 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion passes.

Micronutrients: Sulfates, carbonates, oxides, or silicates of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and cobalt

Reference: §205.601(j) As plant or soil amendments. (7) Micronutrients—not to be used as a defoliant, herbicide, or desiccant. Those made from nitrates or chlorides are not allowed. Micronutrient deficiency must be documented by soil or tissue testing or other documented and verifiable method as approved by the certifying agent. (ii) Sulfates, carbonates, oxides, or silicates of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and cobalt.

Technical Report: 2010 TR (Micronutrients). Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 04/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 annotation change recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation.

Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 1/28/2019 (83 FR 66559)

Sunset Date: 01/28/2024

Logan: Reviewed the reference noted above. Although these are micro, they are essential. Over 90% support in the written comments. They are required in very small quantities. Some are found in the soil, many producers find deficiencies of some or all on this list. Micronutrients are considered heavy metals, but the annotation prevents accumulation.

One group stated synthetics aren’t compatible and may not be needed, but most of the other commentors said the natural sources are slow to break down and would not provide the need we have for these micronutrients. There can be build ups in heavy metals. That’s why the annotation is in there to prevent heavy metal build up.

Carolyn: Is this the only way to add this to the soil, if you’re doing all of the other things (rotation, cover cropping, etc.?)

Liz: I apply these as a foliar feed. Especially tomatoes, which are such a high nutrient requiring crop, and in such small, small amounts.

Amy: We talk about complimentary rotations, building soil nutrient levels. In general, a lot of the nitrogen can be generated through rotations. Legumes contribute nitrogen to the soils. It’s limited when coming to micronutrients. We do that to manage our macronutrients. Comment- logan, Kyla. A farmer put on a starter fertilizer, macronutrient, but had some small fractional amount of Zinc- .01. The case was a soil test wasn’t supplied to document the zinc deficiency, even though the functionality of that fertilizer was not to deliver zinc. What is the protocol? He got a noncompliance because he did not deliver that soil documentation for zinc.

Kyla: That’s what the annotation says. The annotation changed. Or other documented or approved methods. PCO will look at other 3rd party research information that could support that in a case where the operator didn’t do testing. The plant can’t take it up. It was added because it was too strict and boxed in.

Rick: I don’t do crop rotation. My trees have been there forever. Apple growers might do that too.

Javier: We have 18 nutrients we need to grow things. Need to demonstrate it’s needed with soil or tissue sampling. Growers, based on what you grow, you need it to make sure you have a viable crop. That’s how I understand it.

Justification for Vote: Based on the current review and public comment, the Subcommittee finds micronutrients: sulfates, carbonates, oxides, or silicates of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and cobalt, compliant with the OFPA criteria, and does not recommend removal from the National List.

Vote: Motion to remove micronutrients: sulfates, carbonates, oxides, or silicates of zinc, copper, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and cobalt from the National List

Motion by: Logan Petrey Seconded by: Amy Bruch

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Squid byproducts

Reference: §205.601(j) As plant or soil amendments. (10) Squid byproducts—from food waste processing only. Can be pH adjusted with sulfuric, citric, or phosphoric acid. The amount of acid used shall not exceed the minimum needed to lower the pH to 3.5.

Technical Report: 2016 TR. Petition: 2015 (Amendment #1). Past NOSB Actions: 04/2016 recommendation.

Recent Regulatory Background: Added to National List on 01/28/2019 (83 FR 66559).

Sunset Date: 01/28/2024

Logan Petrey: Squid has to be listed separately from fish. It’s not a fish. Squid species die after they spawn. Limited to harvesting after that. It is considered to be not affecting biodiversity. Review Reference above. Background: squid are commercially harvested using nets above spawning grounds during mating season. They will die after reproduction. There Isn’t an environmental or biodiversity concern. Fisheries have management councils- catch limits, insurance, limitation on using flies to attract squid to ensure uninterrupted spawning. A mollusk, not a fish. In many areas they combined with fish, so squid is not specific.

It’s use is a fertilizer as low as 2-2-2 to 3-7-2. It is relatively low fertilizer which is typical for organic. As far as the public comments- all but one were in favor. The one was against the synthetics added to it to stabilize. It’s similar to the liquid fish. Otherwise there are no environmental issues because harvested after that. Use is fertilizer 2-2-2—3-3-3. Commenters- 85% for the use as the annotation.

Mindee: Is this one of those 2019 additions.

Jared (NOP): yes

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds squid byproducts compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove squid byproducts from the National List Motion by: Logan Petrey. Seconded by: Brian Caldwell.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0 Motion fails.

Tobacco dust (nicotine sulfate)

Reference: §205.602(j) Tobacco dust (nicotine sulfate).

Technical Report: N/A Petition: N/A

Past NOSB Actions: 04/1995 minutes and vote; 11/2005 sunset recommendation; 10/2010 sunset recommendation; 10/2015 sunset recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation.

Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Logan Petrey: It is harmful for humans. It is a byproduct of waste and can be homemade. Keep on the list to make sure it’s not used. Commentors are in favor of keeping it listed as a prohibited substance. Our subcommittee all voted in favor of keeping it prohibited. This has been on the prohibited list. There because a hazardous substance for OSHA. Has been used as a natural pesticide for pest control. All comments are to keep it prohibited.

Rick: this is the same as Lead Salts- on the list as a prohibited substance.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee supports continued prohibition of tobacco dust and is not proposing removal from the National List at §205.602.

Vote: Motion to remove tobacco dust (nicotine sulfate) at §205.602 Motion by: Logan Petrey. Seconded by: Wood Turner.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Biodegradable biobased mulch film

Reference: §205.601(b) As herbicides, weed barriers, as applicable. (2) Mulches. (iii) Biodegradable biobased mulch film as defined in §205.2. Must be produced without organisms or feedstock derived from excluded methods.

Technical Report: 2012 TR; 2015 Report; NOP Policy Memorandum 15-1; 2016 Supplemental TR. Petition: 2012.

Past NOSB Actions: Actions: 10/2012 recommendation; 11/2017 sunset recommendation.

Recent Regulatory Background: Sunset renewal notice effective 3/15/2017 (82 FR 14420). Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Nate Powell-Palm: Just yesterday, it seems that we were talking about BBMF. Last fall, we passed an annotation where we lowered BBMF to have 80% biodegradable status to be allowed. The listing that we are looking at today is for 100% biobased status. What we are voting on today is do we keep BBMF on the List at all? If we delist it today, it will also get rid of last fall’s vote. The whole thing goes away if we delist today. If we relist, then te annotation will change. We have been in communication with the Program that they are going to work on it after this vote. If we relist, it drops to 80%, and we will hopefully see some action, where folks come up with materials that will meet this definition.

Jerry D’Amore: 100% is not there. Is there an 80%?

Nate: There is not.

Logan Petrey: I had a discussion with a company that had a prototype, but that was it. Is Asa here? I wish you could jump in. I know you put a lot of work into this. (Introduced material).

It was added. Because there is a lot of organic farming that has plasticulture uses. We’ll get into the waste issues. We also have a couple of plasticulture farmers on the board. The use of mulches in general is to suppress weeds, conserve water, and heat up the soil. BBM is not as good as the plastic mulches for that. Paper mulch and natural mulches do not provide that, they actually cool the soil more than just to be bare ground.

We move onto environmental issues. Concerns have been discussed in prior documents. Concerns: what does it break down into? Also issue with plastic mulches we currently use: a lot of commentors note that is not recyclable. Asked some questions to stakeholders: Any 100% products available? There are none, and none for 80% either. Researcher said that 60% is the highest they have. Mulches are critical; are the biodegradable mulches wanted? We got an overwhelming yes from people currently using plastic. How much residue remains when removing the standard plastic mulch? We know it does not stay together. When pulling it off the field it stays in the ground for a very long time. It does come up in small pieces. Commentors noted that it’s a labor cost to get those pieces removed. Organic farmers often pull it up after every crop, while conventional farmers try and use it 2-3 times. Also, asked if any producer had experience with trials (tricky one because it would have to be a conventional farmer)? We did have a commentor plus the researchers. Trialed on conventional ground: no difference between application and efficacy between PE mulch. Important, beause it needs to hold to prevent weed growth. Efficacy was comparable.

In Subcommittee we voted to de-list due to environmental concerns. But wanted to go back to written comments, there were mixed reviews:

  • All the farmers that use plastic mulches want BBMF re-listed so it continue s to progress. Because they want something that would be better for their farm.
  • Every comment was in opposition to PE mulch, even the growers using it!
  • Opposed folks were stating that natural mulches should be used instead.

I don’t think natural mulches are an alternative to PE mulches. Plant mulch was used in the furrow, not in the planting lines. Plastic beds are used for so many uses: hold the bed all season long, helps get equal watering, maintains beds for harvesting (like for trellising and harvesting). It gives you consistency with harvest. In strawberries it maintains a higher bed so picking is easier. The plastic is applied via a tractor or implement. There is an option of living mulches, but those can compete with crop. Also roller-crimping is impossible to do well on raised beds, it’s an art not a science. May have to water and fertilize your cover crop which can be challenging (mentions problems especially in drought areas).

Some of the growers who were using the plastic mentioned Recyling places were no longer taking it, so everything was going to the landfills.

We are dealing with micoplastics no matter the product. At least with BBMF removes the MACROplastic problem.

Javier Zamora: Good information. As a grower I’ve tried burlap, straw, even 60% biodegradable. The materials that are available right now do not hold well and we don’t know what residue is. We ae in central coast – cool climate. Assume it performs better in Watsonville than in hotter climates. There is a change that needs to happen, it’s not here yet, and I am looking for it as a farmer who wants to feed the soil not mine the soil. I want the next generation to have a healthier soil that what we started with. Practical uses: whether we use plastics or materials that are available, there are residues. Hitting a dead end; but the community is asking for a change. But the manufacturers are not meeting the needs yet. There is more work that needs to be done.

Jerry: Two questions. Is there an indication of the 100-80% compared to PE mulch?

Logan: The cost is probably double currently with the 60% that is available. Some people say they would like to try it but even if it was allowed they couldn’t because the price point is too high.

Jerry: Do we have any idea how much plasticulture organic represents?

Logan: I don’t know acres, but organic farmers pull it up every season where conventional use it more than one season because they can spray herbicides. The acres might not be comparable, but organic might use it more frequently.

Liz: I don’t the comparison numbers. We do not double crop on our plastic. Every small scale producer I know uses the plastic. It’s needed for weeds.

Jerry: If the price is expensive and we are going to burden the organic farmer with forcing them to this product I don’t know how this is going to play out.

Logan: Hope is that labor costs would be less. We also hope manufacturers will cater to the organic industry. But will a grower swap if it were double the cost?

Liz: I would use it in an instant if I could, even if it was double the cost.

Javier: Most plastic users/growers for berries, tomatoes, etc. Really high percent use it for one year and then remove it. Maybe 10% is used for a 2nd year. You will have remnants of the plastic there no matter how much you try. For weed control sometimes you can burn, and that burns the plastic pieces too. So we have to look at those things.

Brian Caldwell: One of the most difficult decision for me on the NOSB. I was very optimistic last year and thought that this would be 100% biodegradable over a reasonable time…. that that was a solution. I was really excited. But, I changed my mind, partially due to some of the reading that accompanied our written comments. The studies that have been done to verify that these products would fully biodegrade. That resource looked really weak to me. Researchers were using visual collection of fragments to decide the % that had degraded. There is a lot of this material that wouldn’t be able to be seen visually. That weakened my image of this great solution. The other thing that happened recently was the PFAS issue. THat is an example of a wise decision that was made in 2002 of not allowing sewage sludge to be used in organic farming. At that point I was convinced that sewage sludge is a good way to connect the cycling of nutrients. Sure enough, our farmers in Maine are having serious issues from previous applications of sewage sludge that was thought to be okay by everybody. Anyways, long story short, I’m changing my mind about this. I am hoping manufacturers will petition for products in the future we will be confident will be 100% biodegradable. As long as it’s really biodegradable, synthetics are not that bad. All the way to water and C02. I am disappointed because I was hopeful for this.

Liz: I think that the theory behind biodgradable mulch is the ideal optimism that organic farming is about. Most growers I know would be thrilled if we had an awesome biodgradable mulch we could use that would get plastic out of our lives. I understand it takes a long time to develop this product. If we don’t give as much incentive and motivation to industry to develop these products. They need a shove. I want this product to be available, and I want to push as much as I can for them to develop it. If we take it off, we will make them less incentivized to try to come up with something. I want them to have a lot of incentive.

Wood: I appreciate the shove, but I am concerned and confused about what our shove looks like. Is it an imperfect aspirational listing, or is it something louder to the community- show me what you got when you got it ready. I had second thoughts about what we did. For the moment, we have gotten ourselves in a situation, in which it’s an absurd choice on some level. We have to get those pieces out of the field, or is it plastic we can’t see. It’s the way I feel about off shore wind, smokestacks. If we want to power our society with coal, we should be able to see it. If you don’t, then don’t be opposed to off-shore wind. We need to see the infrastructure. I want to see the PE in the field and feel the pressure to pick it up. 5% of plastics in this country are recycled. We should be embarrassed about that. If we have pieces of plastic that hasn’t biodegraded, I’d rather be able to see it than have it buried in the soil somewhere.

Amy: This is a tough issue. I sympathize. We can all share that common goal that we want something better than what the current status is. It’s hard to reconcile the wish list because this doesn’t exist. Are we reconciling reality, because we don’t have a product. It doesn’t exist. That makes it tough to analyze. A petitioner has the burden of proof. Now, research is limited, use is limited. I would like something better than the current. My push would be let’s innovate—we want more than to replace plastic with plastic. It’s been the list a long time, and we haven’t had too much movement. One of the researchers commented- biobased content does not correlate with degradation. We also need this to be a natural substance. THe prediction rate of degradation. It would take 21-58 months at a 90% degradation rate. This has to degrade in all sorts of climates. Difficult to analyze. Process oriented and driven, we need to return back to our basics. Delist and have the petitioner with the onus to provide the data.

Jerry: You did the appropriate close. I think we need to turn it on its head. What we’re doing now stifles what would end up being good stuff.

Kyla: 2 points. There has been lots of talk about this theoretical product. When the petition was submitted, there was a product that met the definitions in 205.2 of BBPM. At some point in time, the board deliberation, then NOP memo. The definition says biobased. There were products on the market that met that. Then NOP clarified, in a memo, 100% biobased. Then the petitioned mulches that we had in our hands, were not able to be used. There were products. Then that fell apart.

Process. As Nate said at the start of this conversation. We voted last fall to have this annotation change, and we haven’t seen that through. We came up with this regulatory solution to have companies innovate, that could be viable and usable, but we’re now not seeing that through, which negates our previous work. That feels uncomfortable to me. Let’s work our process, work it through, then put everyone on notice. If there is still not the innovation, then we have the opportunity to make a different choice at the next sunset. It feels premature to not work our process.

Mindee: This is painful. I see myself as a fundamentalist in the biological/cultural methods and the ethos of who I am and what I want for organic. I am a practical compromiser. It hurts my feelings to think about what I don’t know about the composition of the soil. Vote with my heart. I have so much respect for the work on this issue. IF there wasn’t the possibility of petitioning something real in the future, I could be swayed, but I love my compost files, and every time I pull a sticker out of them, I will stick to my heart.

Dilip: You mentioned Washington State University, which was in collaboration with UT and other universities. At my research farm, I have been looking at different types of mulches. The plastic mulch- a lot of farmers have experienced, that when we harvest our crop, and remove it, we still see the pieces there. Going back to the findings. This project. There is not much research and the findings on this topic. I will read a few lines:

“Biobased does not entail biodegradability or imply materials are not biodegradability…. It depends on the molecular structure and ability to be utilized by microorganisms… based on this definition, some, but not all mediums are biobased. Currently, 100% biobased mulches are not available, but plastic mulch from biobased sources remains a continued endeavor.

Allison: I am struggling with this one too. I appreciate Brian, your point about PFAS that seem safe and then 20 years later we have a huge contamination problem. I also appreciate your point about incentives. I am thinking about a 60/40 product, and imagining that next year there’s a 73 product, and we’ve boxed ourselves in imagining ourselves with a project, but without an example. If someone brings us a product, that is better than plastic, we’ll be excited to move it forward.

Kim: Logan- as a person who has done more evaluation of the comments. How many people in the farming community have asked for support removing this.

Logan: I have 12 listed comments. ON the 12th one, is where I have 70. It was a repeated comment, not from farmers, about how we should use natural mulches instead. 7 of the 11 are in support.

Amy: Logan, thank you for your work with this. This is a difficult topic. Alison, I appreciated your comment too. I want to make one comment in relation to Kyla. You mentioned about- this is interesting, since we already voted on this. We did vote on this. It narrowly passed. It does sound like there are a few vote changes, we just heard about. New information has come into play. There are two processes we’re looking at. National List items, and also what we did at last meeting. It narrowly passed.

Kyla: It is important for us to think about this because we may have a lot more work to be done with annotation changes. The national list is imperfect. Lots of ideas out there with annotations. AND, we have a sunset process. We have dual tracks all the time. If we go forth with that work to change annotations. For me, I am like, I have to trust the process. I have to trust that we’re going to do that work. Because the rulemaking process is slower than we might like. I want to sort of set the stage that we’re going to have more of these conversations if we’re going to clean up list and look at annotations.

Logan: In the previous sunset for this, it was 0 to take off, 15 to leave it on. This is a knee jerk reaction to the fall, and to block a previous ruling. There is the option to take it off and for a petitioner to come forward. Now there is no limit on the list. If we get a petition for 70%, then we could be looking at something that is less biodegradable than what we already have. WE could be looking at something less than 80%.

Then you’re looking at the visual and non-visual, and I think it’s not fair to say that every bit of the plastic mulch that is left is visible. There are invisible really small parts left. You see a plastic field, left behind is not all of it. It could be just as much left in the soil that is invisible.

Brian: Quick point: bio-based is a red-herring. In our brains bio-based translates to bio-degradable, but researchers have aid no. Bio-Based means something like sugars from a corn plant are the ingredient that is highly synthesized to make a mulch. There is no plant-like substance in the final product at all. It’s all synthesized into plastic – important to get away from fossil fuels. We shouldn’t think of it as being related to how biodegradable the final product is.

Dilip: Official definition: Bio-based: materials that contain renewable plant or forest based resources not derived from petroleum.

Rick: We spent a lot of work on this process already. Something else may be coming that may change our views. Afraid for the process.

Kyla: Wanted to make sure I was clear on what I aid before: petition before was for biodegradable made from bio-plastics. But then the proposal that was released from the NOSB included the term bio-based.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee vote was mixed. Four members voted to remove BBMF from the National List, two voted to not remove it, and one member abstained. While the substance’s manufacture, use, and disposal may have minimal impact on the environment and are done in a manner compatible with organic handling, under OFPA SEC. 2109. [7 U.S.C. 6508] Prohibited crop production practices and materials; (c) CROP MANAGEMENT – For a farm to be certified under this title, producers on farms shall not- (2), “use plastic mulches unless such mulches are removed at the end of each growing or harvest season.” Complete removal of these materials has proven to be challenging and has organic producers searching for alternatives.

Plastic mulches have been identified as a critical material category for many organic producers. The quest for an appropriate alternative has proven difficult, and stakeholders and NOSB members have conflicting opinions.

The Subcommittee would like further information on the decomposition products of BBMF, including micro- plastics, and whether they are harmful to soil microorganisms.

Vote: Motion to remove Biodegradable biobased mulch film (BBMF) from the National List Motion by: Logan Petrey

Seconded by: Rick Greenwood

Yes: 9 (Carolyn, Jerry, Javier, Allison, Brian, Dilip, Amy, Mindee, Wood) No: 6 (Logan, Rick, Kyla, Kim, Liz, Nate) Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0 Motion failed.


Thursday, October 27, 2022: Fall NOSB Meeting, Day 3

9:00am PT: Call to Order

Question For the NOP: Organic Transition Initiative Program

Allison: What are the details, structure of the regions, and more detail about how the regional partnerships will work?

Dr. Jennifer Tucker: Logistics about how the agreements will work: 6 regions. There is a partnership network. The USDA can’t have arrangements with everyone, so we have selected one lead in each region that will hold the cooperative agreement with USDA. The lead partner and NOP will work collaboratively together to figure out who will be the folks in the region. Then there will be sub-agreements under the master agreement (the next step after the USDA agreements are in place). This is a 5 year program. We don’t know what we don’t know: we are holding some money back for underserved groups that we may not know about yet. Some people don’t want money but still want to be involved. All the requirements (Statement of work, technical assistance, data and reporting, etc.) will all need to be happening in each state.

We picked largest non-profit certified-affiliated with the region (most certified operations in the region). It was an objective process. We choose to do directed award because it meant we would not miss regions. The 6 leads are from East to West (see map, the logo identified the organization):

  1. PCO
  2. Florida Organic Growers (FOG) (closely associated with QCS)
  3. MOSA (Midwest)
  4. OCIA (plains)
  5. CCOF Foundation (SW)
  6. Oregon Tilth

Map of the Organic Transtiion Initiative partners

Handling Subcommittee (HS)

Kyla Smith, Chairperson.

Proposal: Peroxylactic acid (“PoLA”) – petitioned

Logan: We received this petition for a sanitizer from Z company. Antimicrobial processing aid. Synthetic product for use in process water…

Subcommittee was hesitant to add another sanitizer to the list. We are open to the idea that there are some better fits out there. We are relying on filling in those gaps and needs from our stakeholders in the public comments. We had a lot of responses on CPC. Lot of negativity; it was easy to put that down and move on. POLA is lower risk. It is compared often to peracetic acid. It is safer. You don’t have any residues on the carcasses. We had some questions of stakeholders.

Are pathogen populations harder to control at meat processing facilities? One yes, several nos. No specifics or specific requests for this product.

Petition compares to (PAA)Peracetic Acid: is that the dominant material used in facilities?

Pola is less volatile. Would that fit in in place of PAA? No responses.

Have chem rotations aided in pathogen resistant management? We were trying to remind people to look a this as an IPM- even at a processing plant.

Are your current antimicrobial products reducing water use? TR/ POLA could potentially reduce water use. A lot of chlorine products- have to keep adding water. There is a lot of water that is used. POLA could reduce water. This question was not answered by our stakeholders. There was a request for comprehensive review of sanitizers. Had all the research priorities. Does not seem to be a focus. Stakeholders want a comprehensive review of sanitizers. Although POLA could be a good product to add, it doesn’t seem necessary at this time, nor is there enough info to confirm efficacy. The TR had to reference the patent. Not valid for us to go on. It does not seem like a harmful product, there’s not enough data. After going through subcommittee, there’s not data there to go after. Sending back to subcommittee might be a waste of time.

Liz: You got little to no response from the people supposedly interested in this with the questions.

Logan: Yes, we asked very specific questions. People did not dive in; wasn’t the main focus. We had a repeated response (copied response) opposing the product and wanting more data and to address sanitizers overall. But that didn’t go into the questions.

Kyla: The few comments we did get, either from certifier asking their producers or an end user: both stated that the current tools out there are fine and effective. They might be open to more options but not POLA due to the lack of data.

Dilip: These stabilizers are required for polar solutions due to the reactivity of paroxy, carbolic acids. There is strict requirements in the Dept. Of Transportation for these.

Classification motion: Motion to classify peroxylactic acid (PoLA) as non-agricultural, synthetic

Motion by: Logan Petrey. Seconded by: Kyla Smith

Yes: 15 No: 0 Abstain: 0. Motion passes

National List Motion: Motion to add peroxylactic acid (PoLA) for use as an antimicrobial agent in process water, ice, or brine used in the production, processing, and preparation of meat and poultry products, at § 205.605(b) of the National List.

Motion by: Logan Petrey. Seconded by: Kyla Smith.

Yes: 0 No: 15. Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: Motion fails.

Proposal: Phosphoric acid – amend annotation – petitioned

Summary of Petition: This document reviews the petitioned annotation change of phosphoric acid, which is currently on the National List at §205.605(b): Phosphoric acid – cleaning of food-contact surfaces and equipment only.

Kyla: petitioned to expand annotation food contact surfaces only.

This substance went back to subcommittee in spring. We are not in favor of expanding the current annotation due to not being essential.

National List Motion: Motion to amend the annotation of phosphoric acid to (underlined verbiage is the proposed addition) “cleaning of food-contact surfaces and equipment, and as an acidifier to adjust pH of an extraction solvent to extract antioxidants or other target molecules from lamiaceae plants, provided the amount of acid used shall not exceed the minimum needed to lower pH to 2.5.” at 205.605(b).

Motion by: Kyla Smith. Seconded by: Dilip Nandwani.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Proposal: Ion exchange filtration – Recharge Materials

Background: In an August 27, 2019 memo, the National Organic Program requested the NOSB provide recommendations related to the process of ion exchange filtration in the handling of organic products. It has become clear that there is inconsistency between certifiers in how they approve or disapprove of this type of process. Some certifiers require only the solutions that are used to recharge the ion exchange membranes be on the National List at § 205.605. Others require that all materials, including ion exchange membranes and resins be on the National List.

Kyla Smith: The inherent nature of ion exchange leads us to the conclusion that recharge materials used to recharge ion exchange resins must be on the National List if they are used in the processing of organic product. These recharge materials leave ions on the resins and those ions will ultimately end up in the final organic product. The public comments on previous discussion documents and proposals, as well as current review practices by certifiers, support this recommendation.

Recharge materials split from the discussion on resins. Recharge materials are easiest of the two. Recharge materials meet the definition of a processing aid and therefore they must be listed. The community agrees in public comments that they must be listed.

Subcommittee vote: Motion to approve the recommendation that recharge materials used in the ion exchange filtration process must be listed on the National List.

Motion by: Kyla Smith Seconded by: Kim Huseman

Yes: 15 No: 0 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion passes.

Discussion Document: Ion exchange filtration – Resins

Background: In an August 27, 2019 memo, the National Organic Program requested the NOSB provide recommendations related to the process of ion exchange filtration in the handling of organic products. It has become clear that there is inconsistency between certifiers in how they approve or disapprove of this type of process. Some certifiers require only the solutions that are used to recharge the ion exchange membranes be on the National List at § 205.605. Others require that all materials, including ion exchange membranes and resins be on the National List.

Kyla: Resins are a different story than recharge materials. There has not been consistent feedback from the community. Reminder: the NOP sent the NOSB a memo in August in 2019 to provide a recommendation due to certify inconsistency. The HS asked for this back and it was placed back on the work agenda. In Spring we outline the complexity of the topic; our proposal in Spring passed. We asked the NOP to engage with FDA on their classification of resins. We got that memo back and it helped firm up the discussion document for this meeting.

We had a presentation of some options on how to move forward:

1. Option 1: Resins do not need to be listed. In previous comment periods stakeholders expressed concern that a de facto statement that resins do not need to be on the National List leaves a wide-open playing field for any resin to be used. While resins currently being used might be acceptable, the lack of a required review for resins could cause issues in the future with resins that would be less acceptable for use in organic production systems. Allowing resin use without review could provide an unintentional loophole to the requirements of OFPA. However, since resins are currently being used in organic production this is the least impactful option. OFPA requires listing of ingredients, Harvey lawsuit clarified that that includes processing aids.

2. Option 2: Require listing of Resins – Categorically. An alternative to allowing all resins without review would be to create a listing on the National List that includes all resins used in ion exchange filtration (similar to other broad categories on the List). Petitions to the NOSB could be used to annotate this broad listing to exclude problematic resins. This process, however, puts the onus on stakeholders to recognize which resins are being used and to act to exclude particular resins. A petition to remove a resin by annotation takes considerable time and forces the petitioner to provide documentation as to how the resin does not comply with OFPA. While this process is in action the resin would continue to be used. This is opposite the more normal procedures of the NOSB whereby the burden is put on the petitioner to document why something should be added to the List and that substance is not allowed to be used until it is added. In the past, removal of substances already being used from the National List becomes difficult due to economic impacts of that removal. Material review organizations tended to like this option. They offered a different approach to the annotation- describe the characteristics and use parameters. A criterion could be that ion exchange occur in good working conditions.

3. Option 3: Require listing of Resins – Individually. The final possibility is to require each resin to be added to the National List. This would require a petition for each specific resin, technical reports to be commissioned and reviewed, and for the Board to approve the addition of each resin. This would cause significant disruption to the processing industry since these ion exchange filtration practices are already in use and have been for some time. Without a long phase in period, the requirement of listing currently used resins would cause significant economic harm. There could also be potential health consequences since some of these filtration processes remove heavy metals and other deleterious compounds from organic foods. Requiring the listing of these resins could cause significant economic impact and disruption of current organic supply chains.

Some certifiers and advocacy groups were in favor. Noted prior vote- previous board voted this down- 9-6 vote. one vote shy of passing. Issues with categorical listing. There’s option 3 left. Resins, while not ingredients or processing aids, are functionally different than other food contact substances, like a table. Stakeholders for 3 also noted they would be in support of allowing resins in use until they could be petitioned and reviewed by the board.

Lastly, there’s been a lot of discussion around leakage/degradation. Those in the past wanted to better understand the comments around degradation. There still appears to be mixed information on this topic submitted through the public comment. The HS can dig in and parse it out.

Written comments that stuck out to me. “An ion exchange system in good working order could be seen as a plastic container, conveyor belt…” and “2020 TR onIy on exchange filtration notes that degradation can happen with some regeneration. The result is a loss of ion exchange activity… The report did not find evidence of resins leaching into food.” “At no point would the resins be incidental additives. They are not designed to become part of the food product.”

I’m grateful that this is a Discussion Document. There is a lot of complexity. I’m excited to go back and dig in and bring back a proposal to the spring meeting.

Wood: Can you remind folks what the full scope and application of these materials?

Kyla: Used for filtration: juice, sugar, anything, fluids that you want to filter out heavy metals, you know things like that.

Amy: Kyla, thank you for that. We have 70+ certifiers. There are 20+ resins. (or 30). You reviewed an idea of guidelines that certifiers could follow to verify these resins in conjunction with option 1. What if the certifier decides not to approve this resin. How would that information get transferred to the community? If one certifier would disapprove a material, how would that process flow.

Kyla: I don’t have a great answer for you. If it was listed as a food contact substance through the FDA, and it’s being used properly by the operator, checking maintenance, they would then be allowed. I think all certifiers would make the same decision.

Nate: You’re asking how do we get the mind of all 70 certifiers, connecting, rather than each being siloed by themselves. How do we collaborate more, how do we realize the potential of all these smart reviewers having a say. Food contact surface, usually there are not many that are unapproved.

Kyla: It would be similar to a wire mesh.

Amy: That’s a good way to frame the question, Nate. Eliminating the siloed approach. I see this as a process that could go that way. There needs o be a mechanism for share d learnings. Need to make sure the lines of communication would be open.

Kyla: I think that’s why those in favor of 1 pointed to the instruction to certifiers in the Program Handbook that could flesh that out. Certifiers are currently taking this approach, so I’m happy to reach out to them and hear how that process is working currently. There is also the material conflict policy… where when certifiers disagree on something, we pitch it to the program.

Jenny: Which is how you got this in the first place.

Carolyn: Is there a way to determine which resins are used more often? That could be helpful going forward.

Kyla: I can get some more information on that.

Amy: Are there any scenarios where resins would not function as designed. Maintenance challenge, potentially, but more of a broad question.

Kyla: As in any equipment, operators have to keep their eye on this. Best practices for how to maintain equipment. These technologies are quite expensive, and so they want them to function properly. IT’s costly when they don’t. This isn’t an organic focused problem. If they weren’t functioning properly, it would be a contamination event.

Mindee: If it was a contamination event, the thing they would want to get out of the product would be staying in the product?

Kyla: Yes, but if the column busted open, unlikely, and beads came out…

Mindee: But they’re not going to leave the beads in the juice.

Rick: I use a de-ionizing resin. I monitor it to see how many ions are there. People do this to monitor their product. These are FDA also, so there are a lot of other checks. I think they’re pretty safe if it’s a good processor. That’s up to the certifiers.

Nate: I’m always grateful to go into a facility with a food safety certification. Other questions? None.

2024 Handling Sunset Reviews


Reference: §205.605(a) Nonsynthetics allowed:

Attapulgite—as a processing aid in the handling of plant and animal oils.

Sunset Date: 10/30/2024

Use: Attapulgite is used as a natural bleaching clay for the purification of vegetable and animal oils. The function of a bleaching clay is to remove undesirable by-products (impurities) for the vegetable oil and animal fat, thus improving the appearance, flavor, taste, and stability of the final product.

Kim: Attapulgite is used as listed above. There were a handful of commenters for attapulgite, very similar to the Spring. There were 4 certifying agencies that responded, most with the number of entities that have this material listed in their OSPs. With that being said, only a couple certifiers brought comment forward. There are two ways for attapulgite to be produced – 1 using an acid activation, which would make it synthetic – and 1 that is non-acid activated. To bring clarity, there are some CBs that do validate that the type that is being used is the non-acid activated. To reiterate, it is the intent that the non-acide form is the only one to be used. There has been a suggestion to do an annotation to be clear. Past that, there were a couple of groups that have challenged the need for attapulgite on the NL and have requested it be sunsetted for lack of acknowledgement of people using this product, but we do have CBs confirming that there are people that have it on their OSPs.


Jerry D’Amore: Other than the method by which it is mined, was there any other environmental issue raised?

Kim Huseman: Other than it being mined? No. The same concerns of other mined products.

Jerry D’Amore: There’s no other issues with its use?

Kim Huseman: Not with the use; just with the manufacturing.

Nate Powell-Palm: The folks that expressed a desire to have it removed, those were more the advocacy groups, correct?

Kim Huseman: Yes, more around essentiality and number of uses listed.

Nate Powell-Palm: Certifiers on the whole were those saying it is in use and it is showing up on OSPs.


Reference: §205.605(a) Nonsynthetics allowed: Bentonite.

Sunset Date: 10/30/2024

Use: Bentonite is used as a processing aid, not an ingredient. Its adsorptive qualities make it useful for removing impurities in edible oils like soy, palm, and canola. It can also be used to clarify beer, fruit juice, wine, sugar, and honey and is not present in the final product.

Wood: Similar material. Used as a processing aid not an ingredient; used for purifying and clarifying products. It is not present in the final product. The substance has had long support to remain on list. The community was pretty unanimous: continued support for re-listing (and no opposition). There is widespread use.

Commenters maintain that, as listed, only non-synthetic forms of bentonite should be used at §205.605(a) and that acid-activated bentonite, which is treated with sulfuric or hydrochloric acid, should be listed at §205.605(b) if allowed. Without clarity, certifiers may be inconsistent with allowing certain forms of bentonite, which could be remedied with clarity provided by an annotation, as some commenters requested. The Handling Subcommittee acknowledges that only non-synthetic forms should be used, as allowed by the listing.

Justification for Vote: Based on the Subcommittee review and public comment, the Handling Subcommittee finds bentonite compliant with OFPA criteria, and does not recommend removal from the National List.

Vote: Motion to remove bentonite from the National List Motion by: Wood Turner

Seconded by: Mindee Jeffery

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Diatomaceous earth

Reference: §205.605(a) Nonsynthetics allowed: Diatomaceous earth—food filtering aid only.

Sunset Date: 10/30/2024

Use: Used as a filtering aid in food production of syrups, juices, beer, beverages, and other products.

Kim Huseman: So this one is straight-forward. Made from diatoms. It has many applications in organic. It is specific to food-filtering aid only. We heard from several community members- certifiers, users, advocacy groups, a dozen commentors. Multiple uses, practices, and entities. The overwhelming comment is that removing it would be detrimental to juice making, entities, using it as a filtering aid. Not one negative reply.

Mindee: I appreciate that one of our advocacy groups approved this with “no integrity concerns.”

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds diatomaceous earth compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove diatomaceous earth from the National List Motion by: Kim Huseman. Seconded by: Mindee Jeffery.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Magnesium chloride

Reference: §205.605(a) Nonsynthetics allowed: Magnesium chloride.

Sunset Date: 11/22/2024

Use: Magnesium chloride is used in organic food processing as a processing aid, used in tofu production as a coagulant/firming agent, and used in certified organic dietary supplements. It can also be used to dress cotton fibers, or as a color retention agent and as a source of essential mineral magnesium in infant formula.

Kyla Smith: Kyla Smith: Used as noted above. Limiting uses to specific aspects of organic food production- dietary substances. This is a broader work item on annotation changes.

Justification for Vote: Based on this review and public comment submitted during the Spring 2022 meeting, the Handling Subcommittee finds magnesium chloride compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Subcommittee Vote: Motion to remove magnesium chloride from the National List Motion by: Kyla Smith. Seconded by: Allison Johnson

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails


Reference: §205.605(a) Nonsynthetics allowed: Nitrogen—oil-free grades.

Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Kyla Smith: This material is used to reduce oxidation of product and flash freezing. All commenters were in favor of relisting. Fairly slam dunk.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds nitrogen compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove nitrogen from the National List Motion by: Kyla Smith. Seconded by: Allison Johnson

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Sodium carbonate

Reference: §205.605(a) Nonsynthetics allowed: Sodium carbonate.

Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577)

Dilip Nandwani: Listed as non-synthetic; past NOSB actions. SC reviewed it’s use: also known as washing soda or soda ash is used as a raising agent and anti-caking agent and stabilizer. It is known as soda ash. It is used as a stabilizer in butter, cream, ice cream. Public comments were in support of relisting sodium carbonate as an essential in food industry and in the products I just mentioned. It is also used as a pH adjuster in organic laundry detergents. One certified also noted it is also used to remove mold. No alternatives available. Removal of any materials allowed for cleaning can be problematic. Based on the TAP review, sodium carbonate may be produced from mined, which can cause problems. One certifier commented, Based on the TAP review, it is produced in a way that is nonsynthetic. Based on NOP guidance 50331…encourages the NOSB to review the current manufacturing processes to ensure which form is being used.

It appears sodium carbonate would be more appropriately listed at 205.605(b). Thus, the Handling Subcommittee will evaluate this.

SC posed 4 questions to the stakeholders asking if it’s still used, if there are alternatives, environmental impacts of it being mined and is the brine extract non-synthetic? Lots of comments from stakeholders – most in favor of re-listing. Commenters noted that it was necessary for cleaning and others listed the number of their members that used the material. A non-profit remains neutral on sodium carbonate. One stakeholder, mentioned that it is a caustic and corrosive material and questioned its listing without an annotation – if the NOSB intends to only allow the natural sodium carbonate it needs to be annotated (to specify the mined version) or if they intend to allow the synthetic version it should be listed as such with an annotation discussing the brine extraction process.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds that sodium carbonate continues to be compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove sodium carbonate from the National List Motion by: Dilip Nandwani. Seconded by: Kyla Smith

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Acidified sodium chlorite

Reference: §205.605(b) Synthetics allowed: Acidified sodium chlorite—Secondary direct antimicrobial food treatment and indirect food contact surface sanitizing. Acidified with citric acid only.

Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577).

Carolyn Dimitri: The use for ASC is as a processing aid in wash and rinse water, allowed for direct and indirect food contact. In written comments, several mentioned wholehearted support for keeping this on the list. A few respondents thought there should be documented use for the product. Another commenter reminded the NOSB of the need to look at sanitizers as a whole.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds acidified sodium chlorite (ASC) compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove acidified sodium chlorite (ASC) from the National List. Motion by: Carolyn Dimitri. Seconded by: Kyla Smith

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Carbon dioxide

Reference: §205.605(b) Synthetics allowed: Carbon dioxide.

Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577).

Carolyn: Several uses. Used for modified atmosphere storage, aging, carbonation of beverages, modified atmospheric packaging and storage, and pest control for grain and produce. Most people asked to please keep this on the list.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds carbon dioxide compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove carbon dioxide from the National List Motion by: Carolyn Dimitri. Seconded by: Kim Huseman

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Sodium phosphates

Reference: §205.605(b) Synthetics allowed: Sodium phosphates—for use only in dairy foods.

Sunset renewal notice effective 10/30/2019 (84 FR 53577).

Wood Turner: These are salts used as pH controllers and buffers, texturizers, and nutrients in organic dairy products; stabilize milk, cheese, and several other functions relevant to dairy. Can be used as a processing agent in heavy whipping cream. Comments have been notably mixed over the years, mostly in the context of concern about human health impacts and what I would consider to be a debate on essentiality. There are other phosphates on the list, so the implication that any one phosphate should be implicated in human health implications is hard to support, but historically there has been some attention to this particular issue. As a phosphate, there are some inherent concerns about pollution to water bodies. I will also point out that there is, in the process of making or producing this material, phosphate rock is combined with something to make phosphoric acid, given that we have another discussion today on phosphoric acid, there might be some implications on this discussion, as well.

We have historically gotten a lot of comments over time that have been mixed, with some concern over the years about potential human health issues. 2016 TR inconclusive on that issue. This time, 12 written comments – 9 in support of relisting, 3 in support of delisting.

Specifically, the dairy producers who commented said it is essential to what they do and would cause their businesses significant challenges if removed. Committee is not recommending removal from the NL at this time.

Dilip Nandwani: 3 comments in favor of delisting – why? I am reading a sentence that caught my attention.

Wood Turner: One was focused on the human health concerns that I noted that were inconclusive in the 2016 TR. Two others were focused on eliminating inorganic phosphates in organic in general.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds sodium phosphates compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove sodium phosphates from the National List Motion by: Wood Turner. Seconded by: Kim Huseman.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.


Reference: §205.606(b) Casings, from processed intestines.

Sunset Date: 10/30/2024

Mindee: Allowed only when product is not in organic form. Washed in water. NO other ingredients or processing aids. From og or non og animals, do not separate at processing facilities. 3 suggestions in DD for barriers to organic casing production. I gave overview in spring meeting and we heard from commentor last week. If prohibited, we would not be able to produce organic sausages. …

Kim: Love to talk about guts! Just confirmed that this is not a research priority as it stands, but it does get continually brought up. What are the barriers for separating organic from conventional casings. What does it look like from an economic standpoint from being a viable commercially available product. Would be something to consider for a research priority. What would it take?

Carolyn: I wanted to follow up on what Kim was just saying. Some of that market development money has to do with access to processing facilities with hog sector.

Kim: Spot on, Carolyn. The overhead in order to produce organic pork is extensive. From a processing standpoint, it’s simple to run an organic line one day and conventional line 3 days later.

Mindee Jeffrey: Comment from producer outlines. Small amount organic processing goes into large facilities. Local producers can hardly get into a facility to do organic slaughter. Helping producers gain access. We are not there in economies of scale.

Carolyn Dimitri: This is another market-based question. Organic producers, even small scale ones. Slaughter makes it hard- are giving up organic certification.

Nate Powell-Palm: Some takeaways from this week, and every mtg are, how are we doing as coalition builders with folks not in organic but have similar interests/concerns. This meat question is pronounced in alignment with others. Emphasis of weight on standards, that if we delist it will encourage innovation. Or how do we get regional meat processors into this room.

Mindee Jeffrey: Work in CA now: coop of ranchers in our area. Proud of the folks doing work like that.

Allison Johnson: Market development opportunities for 606 products would be great to for the organic transition initiative and the November 15 listening session is happening.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds casings compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove casings from the National List Motion by: Mindee Jeffery. Seconded by: Kyla Smith.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.


Reference: 205.606(o) Pectin (non-amidated forms only).

Sunset date: 10/30/2024

Mindee Jeffrey: 606 Land of commercial availability. Allowed when not commercially available: stabilizer, thickener, gelling agent. Ancillary subs in pectin. Buffering agents, etc. Ref to 2015 TR. Essential to low sugar jams in organic forms. No alternatives according to a producer. Since pectin is made from ag products that can be supplied organically, please consider delisting. Supplies of organic fruits and citrus peels are not available in quality or quantity that would satisfy demand. Big list of products that cannot be produced without pectin at this time. This listing remains essential. Sidenote: Stakeholder suggested high methionyl pectin.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds pectin compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove pectin from the National List Motion by: Mindee Jeffery. Seconded by: Kyla Smith

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Potassium acid tartrate

Reference: §205.606(p) Potassium acid tartrate.

Sunset Date: 5/30/2024

Allison Johnson: Cream of tartar. Occurs naturally in grapes and biproduct of winemaking, in baked goods in baking powder. Also used to stabilize egg whites. Ph control in wine, antimicrobial. Extract of crusty sediment from side of wine barrels. Dead yeast in grapes. Just by hot water. Changed from non ag synth to ag in 2019 after last round of sunset review. Has commercial avail attached to it now- tricky because derived from wine. Most wine production is Made With Organic, so can only come from organic wine made without sulfites. Limiting supply. May not be any on the market.

Similar to the spring, we heard from a number of folks using this- baking. One advocacy group wanted it removed as a product of conventional agriculture. Might want to examine a Made With Organic annotation for the future.

Justification for Vote: The Subcommittee finds that potassium acid tartrate continues to be compliant with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and/or 7 CFR 205.600(b) and is not proposing removal.

Vote: Motion to remove potassium acid tartrate from the National List Motion by: Allison Johnson. Seconded by: Kyla Smith.

Yes: 0 No: 15 Abstain: 0 Recuse: 0 Absent: 0. Motion fails.

Advice from Former NOSB Members

Nate Powell-Palm invited former Board members to the front of the room: Steve Ela, Asa Bradman, Jesse Buie, and Scott Rice.

Nate Powell-Palm: We all survived this pandemic together. Thank you to you all for the leadership you provided, even if it was virtual. Thank you!

Anything we celebrate as far as efficacy, culture, and other things on this Board is due to the tone and collegiality that these four brought. None of this happens by accident. This is really intentional leadership.

As we look around the Board, this is our change to try to download information from these four. Any questions about history or how they would have voted in the last couple of runs? We have time, so it’s open up to the floor.

Mindee Jeffrey: Hindsight is 20/20 – what do you wish you had known when you look back?

Scott Rice: The other part of it is, are you glad you are off? That one is a little easier. I’m glad to be off, but I do and don’t miss the work. It’s really fulfilling and I learned an immense amount about details that I never thought I would be diving into. I do not have an answer about what I would have done differently. I think being open to ideas that other members bring, even when you think your mind is made up, always be open to what comes down the comment lane.

Asa Bradman: In hindsight, there were some issues that I think were the most difficult for me – hydroponics. I did not feel that the proposals and the things that we voted on did not quite hit it right. If I were to do that again, I would abstain and argue that we needed a better definition of what was hydroponic. The vote referred to another definition, and I didn’t feel it was quite right. I think there should have been consistency. And some of the highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers, and we should have also put limitations on use of that in soil, or at least considered it. I am also torn about how we are growing things in soil, but in many cases it is a hydroponic environment, and I feel that tore us apart. That was a hard decision. When I look at the current reactions to that, the Real Organic Standard, which I think is good in many ways, but I think you should be able to grow food in a parking lot or on the top of a building… Those are issues that tore at me then, but I was new, and I think they need work and thought.

Nate Powell-Palm: The idea of how we build this collaboration and feeling comfortable that we do not need to get to an answer too quickly. We have the Discussion Document process, and how long it stays a DD is kind of interminable. Can you speak to how long it should take?

Asa Bradman: There were a lot of people frustrated with progress. I know that for me, maybe the issue had been around for a while, but getting up to speed on that was a challenge. Another issue…and this came up in the meeting this week…having some way to allow Board members to allow reimbursement if they do not have resources to participate on the Board. I had a job with benefits and retirement, but for folks who are dedicated to organic for their whole lives but cannot afford the time that it takes to be on the Board, I think that participation should be accessible to them. [APPLAUSE]

Logan Petrey: On Asa’s comment regarding wanting to sit on things and make sure they are right, but I can imagine being a hydroponic farmer and waiting for that to come out, and that adds a lot of pressure for that, too. I can see where there was frustration. Did you feel that was part of it—people hanging in limbo with their operations?

Asa Bradman: Yes, and there were operations that already had their USDA label.

Jesse Buie: I am appreciative for this opportunity. In hindsight, for me, if I would have come to this position with a better understanding of the relationship of the Board, NOP, and the bigger congressional involvement in this process, I think I could understand a lot of the problems we were having in trying to come up with solutions. I realize that the systems that we are in, we are dealing with some high-level issues. A lot of which we can recommend, but the decision is still going to be made someplace else. What got me was that we were dealing with issues that we didn’t really create, but then we were tasked to deal with it. As a Board, whatever task we are given, I think we ought to work the best we can to make it happen. That’s what we did with hydroponics. We worked hard, but then we learned how the system works, and that is frustrating sometimes. The beauty of the whole situation, I see that this community is focused on the organic label. From day 1, that’s what I was about. Our efforts in the end may not always satisfy us 100%, but in the end, we do the best we can to create the high standards for the label that we can.

Steve Ela: A couple things: Time and Discussion Documents. When I came on the board, Discussion Documents didn’t exist. A Discussion Document has a different tone than something you might vote on and that is great. 2 things in hindsight I wish I would have known:

  1. Understanding OFPA. I read it on the plane. Being versed back into it. What are the regulations. It’s hard to remember that because it’s complicated and I’m not a regs person.
  2. I came to appreciate that everybody out there… we’re on the board and we don’t have to be the experts. The public comments give the brain trust from the people I came to rely more on public comments. There are smarter people in the room and we should listen to them.

Dilip Nandwani: We four are new members. I’d like to seek your advice. Yesterday afternoon, when one of the topics started to stumble… advice. I’m looking at the next 4 years. 8 board meetings to go. First in person meeting.

Scott Rice: Glad to see you were able to get together in person. It’s tough to imagine the experience without that. Take advantage of the in-person time. That face-to-face has been helpful to me over the years.

Steve Ela: I’ll echo that. On phone calls… the subcommittee is only part of the board. The subcommittee has a recommendation and then the whole group is on it. There’s no chance to think about the nuances of something that’s more detailed. The in-person part is important for discussion. It’s fine for votes to not be 15-0. It’s good to have robust discussion and to disagree. Then move on and the next vote is something different. Aside of the issue of hydroponics, the real issue was the board decided. Agree or disagree- vehemently. Then go to dinner together. Be people. Not have the topic define who your friendships are.

Jesse Buie: That was tremendous. I also want to say that during this next 4 years, this Board is going to have to deal with some issues that are really going to tax your expertise. Part of the solution to that is that you are really going to have to do your homework to defend whatever your position is. The challenge that you are going to have with the topics that are coming up, I don’t know how you are going to make it, but you will. As Steve said, hang together. The stakeholders are going to be the ones that is going to give you a lot of the guidance that you need, but we know how that works. Your ultimate goal is to focus on that organic seal, that is going to be your guiding position right there. In the end, you have to focus on the organic seal.

Jerry D’Amore: Jesse, that was great. As you look at us today, define what you think might be coming. What do you think we are going to have to deal with that may not be apparent to us.

Jesse Buie: As they say, I’m not going to throw a grenade and then run back into the fox hole. Rick started it. How is organic going to deal with GE issue. See that as a big issue. We want to keep organic farming competitive – that’s the challenge. Competing technologies out there. How we deal with that will determine how organic comes out in the end. That’s my concern: how will the NOSB deal with the new tech and the new emphasis on providing food to inner cities and other issues. We kinda deal with from standpoint that organic is not elite but many people say we are. If we are going to deal with food shortage issues things are going to need to be done differently.

Javier Zamora: I have had the opportunity to speak and spend time with all of you, and I really appreciate what you are bringing to me as a new Board member and the time that you have taken to give me your expertise and educate myself to become a better Board member. At the same time, I am hearing frustration regarding things being conducted in a way that perhaps this Board did not agree on, meaning some decisions were made prior to your work and vote on it. Containers. If some of those decisions are made in a different way, do you think that is jeopardizing the value of this Board as giving direction to the NOP? Also, will that create a new movement? A new label? How do you feel about that? I’m thinking 10, 15, 20 years? Maybe my daughter or grandkids will be dealing with that.

Asa Bradman: I want to respond, but I’m not sure how to. This kind of thing ties back to hydroponics because that is one of the issues that people felt could warrant a new movement. I felt at the time that there should be an Organic Hydroponic label so that people knew what they were getting, and that disappeared after the issue was off our agenda. I do think that USDA organic still sets the gold standard in many ways, and I think that will always be true. There are hard issues. Carrageenan is another issue. A previous Board voted to take it off, NOP didn’t respond, and then we voted with a strong majority. I think there is always going to be that gnashing of teeth. People on the Board have always represented a diverse constituency and there will be differences, but I think there is still a real commitment to the label. Jesse just said about competitiveness and organic becoming a big industry. It’s different from when I first got interested in this in the 70s when I was in high school. It’s hard to predict what the future is going to be. I think we all have to do our best.

Amy Bruch: So happy to meet all of you. I have been reflecting on the sense of family with our Board and community. When I think of farming, it’s a big family operation that I’m part of. I try to balance family traditions and history, while trying to be innovative and adaptable. We have talked about the past and the technical challenges. Looking for your perspective about the future and social challenges. It is exciting. How do we, as a Program, continue to be a leader, share the good things that are happening, and where do we need to go from here?

Scott Rice: You have this label that is trusted. On Steve’s point, rooting your work in OFPA to shape what that looks like.

Steve Ela: My last year, now, it’s so easy to get in the weeds, and I think I am becoming more higher level again and coming back to organic principles. They’re a little mushy sometimes, but coming back to does this fit what I think organic should be? We are rooted in a label that is based on principle, not practice. In my gut, do I think this is a good idea? I get excited about climate smart…I am a climate smart grower…when I make decisions on my farm, and it’s part of my ethos. That is who I am. I think the climate side of things and resiliency are really important, and I like seeing that.

Kim Huseman: As I look across this room, there are five of us that you guys nursed along our first couple of years. That learning curve was crazy. Whoever the lucky ticket is who gets to fill this role and be coddled by 14 people before we start falling off like flies… From a mentorship standpoint, what advice can you give us on mentoring other Board members? Before long, there will be 4 people who will be the cornerstone to the group with a lot of new faces. What advice can you give?

Scott Rice: It was great to have that time together in DC. I feel like we focused a lot on how we relate to the industry, USDA, and very much about process, the sunsets, it’s a lot of information. Wood made a very good point after that, noting that you get the idea of what we are here for, but what is the job? What am I supposed to do? I think you have to strike the balance between what the big picture is and what your role is. Taking the time to explain the process, I think, would be my best advice. If you haven’t been coming to meetings on your own, it’s overwhelming.

Rick Greenwood: We all worked on Human Capital. What do you think about…what do we need? Looking back now, how would it have helped you? Do we need people to help review literature? How is that really going to play-out in reality? Everyone agrees…it is a challenging position, it takes time, but what are the guidelines? What would have helped you?

Steve Ela: More coffee. I think it is really individual. When I was working on ammonia extracts, someone to help with additional literature review and retrieving articles for me. We all have our skill sets and our weaknesses, and that is highly variable depending on the person. I do not think there is one thing. I think on the human capital side, there are a lot of day-to-day sunsets. I hope for all of you, as Board members, that somewhere in your tenure of being on the Board you have one topic that you feel like makes a real difference. The little sunsets do make a difference, but I hope you get a topic that is really meaningful to you.

Jesse Buie
: We need to go back to this basic person. Here’s a new person coming to this board. What is that person, and what are those characteristics. It has to be an individual who first understands the organic situation, and to be focused on whatever they do will work in compliance with the mission. When we get these different areas, is where we come up with divergent ideas on different things. In the end we have to bring it back and focus on the task we are trying to do. That person has to be open minded and have the ability to work with everybody. From that you can take them and mold them into what you want to do in committee, because of the process. You are going to get an opportunity to present your position fully. Try to convince people to go your way. Then bring it back to deal with everybody else to work with them to come up with a decision.

Kyla Smith: This is sort of an ask- different perspective. Being on a board is often not in a public setting, it’s behind closed doors. A healthy board gets to speak with one voice on the decision that is made. How do we leave the issue at the table and then be healthy and successful in our communities.

Steve Ela: With NOSB support… one of the things was subcommittee calls. I value that it was only the members on the subcommittee calls to speak from one’s own beliefs. Then for the whole board to debate it publicly. You do need a chance to have things that you can just brainstorm. Then have the tough decision and still say- you’re a person. I still disagree with you, but you’re still a person. Topics were cool but the people were the biggest thing. Walk out and have a beer.

Allison Johnson: How can we help more people see themselves in organic, both from producer and consumer? How can the NOSB help invite more folks into org community? What structures or processes might we use to make sure we are hearing from a wider range of people? And see organic as relevant?

Asa: Public comments are crucial; I try to make a point to reach out even with people who disagree with me. Important to reach out because some people whose job it is to reach out to you, and you need to get the voices where it isn’t their job by reaching out. I was on the Board for State of CA and it was much more restrictive with concern for conflicts. But the NOSB is less restrictive because we represent constituencies. The use of electronic formats is important for accessibility. The complaints about meeting timings is a concern; but having other formats for exchange of information might also increase accessibility.

Jesse Buie: Big emphasis on getting minorities involved in organic. It’s a multi-faceted issue. We know we want to do it, but how do you do it? Being an example of whom we are talking about, there has to be a re-education of people to understand farming and the hard work in all of that. I’ve attempted to try and do this. Not easy process. But not slacking off one bit because I understand some of the issues and misunderstanding out there. At college level the programs need to be developed where you can target the motivating factors that make people want to get into farming. Being honest: looking at the Universities and their programs, the farming is an academic discussion. You don’t get down to the dirt and the real issues. Not getting to the people who want to work the rows and make things happen. How we correct that is ongoing process. But what we are doing at college level is strictly academic farming and the people who need the knowledge are not getting it. Need to encourage folks to get their hands dirty.

Kyla Smith: How did you all approach balancing your own opinions on a particular topic versus representing this seat that you were sitting in?

Scott Rice: I would struggle with that bit, but not so much as some others. The certifier seat sometimes seems a little easier. I remember having a particular material where the way I came at it, I wasn’t coming with a dog in the fight, our fight was more on process and how you are going to evaluate it. It came to the Board, I presented it, and the Board was like, “I’m not hearing one way or the other here.” And I was like yeah, have to turn to the comments.

Steve Ela: I cannot sell you a used car, because I’m going to tell you all of the things that are wrong with it. The only way I could balance it was just to be me. I voted against things that would have helped me control fire blight, but you’re on the board to do the right thing, and if your stakeholders are mad at you, then they are.

Jesse Buie: When I came on the Board, there are people out there who are tracking your every vote, and it’s kind of crazy. I am coming from Mississippi, and I was somehow labeled a corporate hat. But that’s how it was written up. This corporate hat from Mississippi. there was a perception of how they thought I would be voting on issues. You vote the way you think is best. If the people don’t like it—tough. That’s an issue I hope you don’t have to deal with, but we did.

Dilip Nandwani: You have given us very good information. I am very confident. Jessee, you made a comment on universities. Universities… what I am seeing here on this board. They have done a good job. On my farm, I am in shorts and on a tractor. I am also writing grants and that is a different thing. Whatever insight I bring to the board, this is from my practical experience. On the farm, when I use plastic mulch on my vegetables. Similarly, I see what common organic farmers experience, I talk with them in the workshops, and bring those issues. Based on that, I want to include my issues. I mostly agree, but want to add my two cents.

Free Discussion: Plastics (What we could do with plastics given OFPA?)

Amy: Clarification or question: currently I understand that plastics and packaging are out of the purview of OFPA. Maybe a question to Jenny? Are there thoughts toward opening scope of OFPA to regulating packaging?

Jenny: Good reminder of “NOP civics” of who owns what. OFPA is “owned” by Congress, so the NOP cannot adjust OFPA. This is a topic we had considered as a work agenda previously but ended up withdrawing (in the context of BPA) because it was determined ti be outside the scope of the NOSB at the time.

Amy: Re: process for change. Inside or outside the program – is it a necessary work item? Seems important to the community.

Jenny: So, in terms of advocacy in terms of broadening OFPA for more issues- farm bill conversation. At the program level we do not advocate to Congress. We get requests for TA from Congress. Different administrations handle this differently. Some are tightly connected with Congress’ processes, others not so much. At the program level, we are not advocates on how OFPA could change. We will provide TA. I have calls with Congressional staff when those questions come up.

Nate: Amy your question is at the heart of why we are having the discussion. Oftentimes NOSB is a poor fit for standards. Understanding what we can and can’t do is crucial to this discussion. Understanding what needs to go to Congress is important. If there is work to be done on plastics, please read OFPA and tell us where you would like us to act.

Wood: Hard to separate this out from BBMF discussion this week. We recycle about 5% of our plastics in this country and that’s disgusting, as all agriculture and society. Policy and regulatory failure on so many levels. I do think if there is anything we can do from the policy perspective, including re-capturing ag plastics into durable products. Really concerned on the packaging front: we will continue to see ourselves asking the question again and again. It is so much more expensive to have non-plastic packaging and the consumer is not broadly willing to absorb that cost. There has to be an intervention form a policy and regulatory standpoint.

Nate: To our panel’s point. Relying on our community is the best part of being on this board. Put it on our community to let us know.

Mindee: We educated consumers in how they could eliminate packaging at Good Earth, and that initiative came a long way. A lot of power there for the consumer. A lot of encouragement for me there. Sometimes taking the pressure out of pressure out of one place; don’t want agriculture to carry burden of solving plastics problem.

Nate: Could I call on you? Great point about certain limit to the private market response to plastics. If it’s not going to be forced upon everybody, are we going to see any movement. You live in a plasticulture world.

Jerry: I am at a loss as to the question. In terms of our discussions before: my point is that the organic vs. Conventional plastic use. I’ve lived in the world of the great uses of these materials. I’m not sure that the alternatives to plastic are that much more expensive, but are more expensive in terms of manufacturing. Plastics come out exactly as you want and at great speed. There is a difference as illustrated in our debate yesterday. If we don’t get better combined volumes of other products, I don’t believe there will be an incentive for producers to work against what they are already doing. There needs to be much more upside than the 5% that’s on the ground today.

Mindee: Good point, some of the manufacturers in the Bay area have a way of developing packaging to get to the velocity of sustainability.

Brian: Really important topic, glad our stakeholders make us pay attention to it. It would go a long way to really charge up consumer confidence in the integrity of organic if we were able to make progress in reducing single-use plastics. In NY state a law went through that disallowed plastic grocery bags. It was easy. We should look at OFPA and the definition of handling and whatever way we may be able to find an approach to dealing with this topic.

Javier: Thank you, Brian. I am one of those farmers with the desire to make sure plastic use is less. It is expensive. I am doing it because I believe that having straws and clam shells is creating a big issue. I see it in our agricultural communities. Until something… regulatory level… forces the larger users to make a change, we’ll make some sort of advance. We do have lots of community support, when I have a clam shell that is not plastic. But when I told them that it cost 5 x more than a 10cent clam shell they say WOW, no wonder nobody is using it. The customer can make that happen. We smaller independently owned farms want to make it happen. We need community support.

Nate: Let’s call the discussion there.

NOSB Officer Elections

Final officer resuls for the open positions:

Chair: Nate Powell-Palm

Vice Chair: Mindee Jeffrey

Secretary: Amy Bruch

Other Business: How to approach annotations?

Brian: Suggestion for annotations. I understand why we can’t vote on annotations at the same time we vote on Sunset. But I would love to have happen: it will add more time to what we are doing if we consider annotations. I would have to have a separate time to consider annotations on the substances we are doing for Sunset, so that we don’t have to refresh our knowledge of the substances.

Kyla: I like the idea of doing it simultaneously.

Wood: Brian’s point about duplicating the work.

Kim: We have a 5-year term as well, so you review an item and it gets rotated out.

Kyla: It had been suggested to put this out as a DD, to collect them all up. I think we have a start to that. We can lump those two things together.

Amy: I was thinking as I was putting my materials together. Really good idea.

Jerry: I am still confused. When we are in the moment we cannot mess with an annotation. You’re suggesting what?

Nate: Just a question of how we can most efficiently tackle annotations.

Jerry: So procedurally, right after it’s all done, we could engage in a new annotation.

Mindee: Brian’s suggestion is amazing, and we could also do it the next year. WE had a public comment suggest materials. Kyla was already looking at handling materials. A request for the ones the community knows should be considered.

Allison: I wonder if we want to have some sort of pattern- where we’re asking for input on annotations, otherwise there’s a bias to things which have been brought up rather than an opportunity for anyone to weigh in. Would we want to hear in advance of the spring meeting and vote in the fall? What cadence would be right?

Rick: Thinking that mechanically when we go through these at the meeting, we raise the issue and everyone is up to speed. The next place would be to bring them back to the committees and put them back on the agenda. So we address them very soon after. Like we do with research priorities.

Kyla: I think it could be a discussion document in Spring and we can put forward the proposal for Fall meeting.

Discussion: NOSB Meeting Timing

Nate: We have received consistent comments from community that the meeting timing is not optimal fo r everyone. The question of it being not optimal for farmers is one we take seriously. In Spring 2022 we heard the same and wanted to discuss whether there is an alternative. We tasked Michele asking “why do we do it this way?” Michele did a fantastic job saying what each month holds.

We have to be 6 months apart for the meetings. Sept is the end of the federal fiscal year so nothing can happen, so alternatively March is out. There is always going to be a better two months. But polling whole NOSB on other options October and April were always the most perfect fit.

Slide shows a chart for why NOSB meetings are timed the way they are.
Why are the NOSB meetings in April and October?

In thinking about how we keep access to the NOSB open: we have been getting more and more farmers engaging in NOSB process due to the virtual comment. Not everyone can travel, but the more we can get folks to engage in other avenues the better off we can be.

This does not imply a policy change about in-person comments. We are in a hybrid format this time because we are testing it out still. It’s gone really well so far. We are excited to continue meeting more in-person.

Brian: OFA did a great job of recruiting farmers for the virtual comments this year. Suggest other organizations could do the same thing.

Nate: Yes, it’s a 3-minute call. There is inconsistent representation form all stakeholders. Farmers are getting better but they are one area we don’t hear much from.

NOSB work agendas/Materials update

The NOSB work agenda can also be found on the NOP website.

Recognition of outgoing member: Rick Greenwood

From the Chair and NOSB in general: Thank you, Rick, for your service.

Rick: In listening to the alumni, I think the best part about being on the board is working with the board members. Relationships, different viewpoints. You feel like you’re doing something. It may not be enough. We have constraints. We are helping the industry and each other. I’ve enjoyed it, and if you talk to those who’ve gone off, they are happy to leave because of the time commitment. It’s a lot of work. It takes a long time for the new board members. You come with expertise, but you don’t have the expertise of the system. It takes time to become more efficient. Once you get over that in year four. I am very impressed with the program people. Everyone comments on bureaucrats. Everyone I have worked with is so dedicated and really willing to help. Do the hard work, day in, day out. Overall, great experience. Anyone in the audience who is interested should apply.

Jenny: Speaking of bearcats, farewell to Rick on behalf of NOP. Rick was the first appointee since I became Deputy Administrator. Love about Rick that I want to highlight: When I called Rick to have the appointee conversations Rick said “what about a conversation about GMOS?” He has always been the voice of raising that question in a collaborative way. These 15 people represent over $60bil, when once person asks that question they represent a lot of the folks out in the world asking these questions. It is okay to have dissent and disagreement and go out of a beer afterwards, and Rick has really embodied that spirit. Here is a plaque (but the apples are from Steve Ela).

Rick: I did serve previously on an AMS Avocado Board, I am closing out 8 years of service for the USDA.

Other Business and Closing Remarks

Each of the NOSB members reflect on how the meeting went, and their hoeps and plans for the future.


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