Cornucopia News Archive

Follow the National Organic Standards Board Meeting in Tucson, AZ #NOSB

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Last Updated: April 25 at 8:40PM CT

Join The Cornucopia Institute as we live tweet from the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Tucson, Arizona. We will be sharing the play by play with our Twitter followers under #NOSB or simply follow our stream.

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

You can also stay updated throughout the meeting right here:

Wednesday, April 25, 2017

8:49PM CT: Emily Musgrave of berry marketer Driscoll’s testifies in support of elemental sulfur, lime sulfur, sulfurous acid, and fish fertilizer.

NOSB farmer member Oakley: Do you think your growers have a preference on whether or not their fish fertilizer is harvested from wild fish or made from a byproduct?

Musgrave: As long as the cost per unit of nitrogen doesn’t go up, our growers would prefer that their liquid fish fertilizer be sourced from byproduct, not harvested fish.

8:40PM CT: Nicole Dehne is Certification Director for Vermont Organic Farmers which certifies 700 producers in the state of Vermont. She testifies in support of the proposal to reduce the incentive to convert native ecosystems, but wants to make sure that it doesn’t harm organic maple producers. She says 50% bio-based biodegradable mulch should be allowed and over time increase the requirement toward 100%. It is more sustainable than plastic.

8:25PM CT: Richard Conn of Conn and Smith, Inc. expresses support of polyoxin d zinc salt as a fungicide.

Daniel Martens with Novamont North America testifies in support of bio-based plastic mulch. Today 30% of the product is bio-based, he says. Read Full Article »

Suspicious Organic Grain Shipment Intercepted at U.S. Port

Monday, April 23rd, 2018

UPDATE: Interim Victory for Organic Farmers

A federal judge has denied Sunrise Food International, Inc.’s request that it be allowed to immediately unload 25,000 metric tons of what is purportedly “organic” corn currently stranded off the shore of California.

Sunrise asked the court to issue an emergency order allowing it to dock and unload the shipment, arguing that it faces catastrophic monetary losses and damaged business relationships if it is forced to comply with a U.S. Customs directive to re-export or destroy the shipment.

United States District Court Judge A. Mendez concluded that allowing Sunrise to unload and distribute the corn at this stage would essentially determine the outcome of the case and would be improper under the law.

The judge was also unconvinced by Sunrise’s argument that its monetary losses justified immediate court action.  If Sunrise was able to sustain approximately $11,500 in daily losses for nearly a month before asking the court to issue the restraining order, it failed meet the requisite standard for the court to act on an emergency basis.

Sunrise can pursue another avenue for interim relief, or it can elect to proceed in arguing the merits of the case. Should Sunrise pursue additional interim relief, a hearing is tentatively scheduled for May 22, 2018.

For now, the corn will remain offshore.  Cornucopia will continue to follow this important case.


Russian Corn Rejected; Lawsuit Filed

An organic industry watchdog, The Cornucopia Institute, which has been monitoring imports after investigations in 2007 discovered wholesale fraud, reports that twenty-five thousand metric tons of purportedly organic corn, grown in Russia, Moldova, and Kazakhstan, currently sit idle on the M/V Mountpark, a United Kingdom-flagged vessel lingering off the coast of California.

A previous shipment of suspect imported grain
being unloaded in Indiana

Whether the shipment, which also contains organic soybean meal, is ultimately allowed entry into the United States rests on a ruling by a federal district judge in California. On March 29, 2018, Sunrise Foods International, Inc., a Canadian-based importer, sued the USDA and U.S. Customs for rejecting the shipment, which Sunrise attests is worth millions of dollars.

Farmer-owned cooperatives in the United States contend that domestic grain producers have lost hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue in recent years, facing competition from fraudulent grain being imported to feed certified organic livestock in the U.S. Despite a decade of pressure from Cornucopia, the USDA’s National Organic Program did not start paying attention to the massive alleged improprieties until The Washington Post published an investigative story last year.

Read Full Article »

Controversial USDA National Organic Standards Board to Meet in Tucson

Sunday, April 22nd, 2018

Possibly the Least Consequential Meeting in Its 26-Year History

When members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) assemble in Tucson later this week, it will be the first meeting since it has become painfully obvious to the organic community that their power, created by an act of Congress, has been almost entirely stripped away.

Above:The NOSB at the Fall 2017 Meeting
Below: USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue

Unusual for a federal advisory board, the NOSB was endowed with specific statutory power by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), with its members appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture.  The undermining of the NOSB’s authority began during the Obama administration, when it was stripped of the ability to set its own agenda. The agency has since been embroiled in ongoing litigation challenging the undercutting of NOSB power.  Now, during the Trump Administration, NOSB decisions are being disregarded on a wholesale basis under USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue.

Prominent on the agenda at the spring meeting will be a review of the safety and essentiality of a number of non-organic materials for use in organic production and a discussion of long-overdue plans to crack down on documented fraud in the importation of organic feed grains.

Although successive Republican and Democratic administrations have paid lip service to the NOSB’s authority while frequently ignoring its recommendations, in a series of unprecedented decisions, Perdue has rendered the board’s expert advice nearly obsolete. Read Full Article »

Spring 2018 NOSB Meeting – Webinar: Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Cornucopia staff members attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) pre-meeting webinar today, where the NOSB heard comments from the public. Cornucopia’s notes from this meeting are below.

You can also view our notes from the Tuesday webinar.


Eleven NOSB members present
(2 missing, environmentalist and handler NOSB positions have not been filled)

Source: gdsteam

Edward Field, Natural Merchants, Inc.

Elimination of Sulphur dioxide would be detrimental for business and for organic wine producers.
In Europe all of our wine would be considered organic.  Since ruling on sulphites in 2012, we have followed guidelines to the letter.   Organic wine sales continue to grow between 10-20% by volume.  Sulphites are a key part of that production.   Majority of our portfolio must continue to have sulphites.  No viable alternative.  Use does not threaten integrity of organic label and should retain Sulphur dioxide on the National List.
Read Full Article »

Spring 2018 NOSB Meeting – Webinar: Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Tuesday, April 17th, 2018

Cornucopia staff members attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) pre-meeting webinar today, where the NOSB heard comments from the public. Cornucopia’s notes from this meeting are below.

You can also view our notes from the Thursday webinar.


Thirteen NOSB members present:
(note: environmentalist and handler NOSB positions have not been filled)

The NOSB at the Fall 2017 Meeting

Harriet Behar
Asa Bradman
Scott Rice
Ashley Swaffar
Jesse Buie 
Emily Oakley
Steve Ela
Dan Seitz
A-dae Romero-Briones 
Sue Baird 
Tom Chapman
Lisa de Lima 
Dave Mortensen

Review logistical info:
Asked everyone to reveal their name and affiliations.

[In Cornucopia staff notes on individual comments below, our staff has included the commenter’s name and affiliation] Read Full Article »