Report from the Fall 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting
At the October meeting, National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Chair Harriet Behar identified several troubling issues that have plagued the organic program in recent years. These issues included the languishing origin of livestock, pasture, and native ecosystems rules, and the certification of hydroponic production in 2017.
Since 2017, the National Organic Program (NOP) has offered no guidance to certifiers on hydroponic production. This has led to inconsistent application of the rules by certifiers, including some allowing pesticide use in greenhouses immediately prior to organic certification.
organic operations only in the nutrients fed to the plants.
Image source: Don Barrett, Flickr
In response to stakeholder backlash, Deputy Administrator of the NOP Dr. Jennifer Tucker sent a memo of clarification to certifiers in June 2019. It suggested (but did not clarify) the organic regulations requiring the three-year period during which no prohibited substances can be applied on land transitioning to organic only apply to soil-based operations.
At the October meeting, NOSB member and organic farmer Emily Oakley asked Dr. Tucker for clarification that the three-year transition applies to every organic operation, without exception.
Dr. Tucker sidestepped the question, claiming that the organic regulations are clear about regulatory requirements and prohibited substances are not allowed in organic production. While she said the organic regulations apply to all operations, she did not explicitly say the three-year transition applies to all operations. Instead, she emphasizes that operators with questions need to contact their certifiers.