Cornucopia News Archive

What the National Organic Program Doesn’t Say Is Telling

Friday, November 8th, 2019

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.

This 40-acre conventional operation differs from the company’s
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.

Read Full Article »

Watchdog Cornucopia Remains Committed to Mission

Friday, November 8th, 2019

Board and Staff Retreat Marks New Chapter Under New Leadership

Fueled by organic Equal Exchange coffee and chocolate, the board and staff of The Cornucopia Institute gathered in Minneapolis for three energizing days of staff and board meetings. Led by Jonathan Rosenthal, Cornucopia’s new interim executive director, the retreat marked a new chapter for the organization, as well as its unwavering commitment to elevating authentic organic and calling out “faux-ganic” brands.

Rosenthal observed, “The Cornucopia Institute is known for its industry research and outspoken work to protect the integrity of organic agriculture. I am honored to work with this devoted, talented staff and deeply committed board.” While our leadership has changed, our underlying principles continue: Cornucopia highlights the most ethical farmers and agricultural practices, stays abreast of regulatory issues, rallies consumers and producers to action, and investigates and reports on fraud and dubious practices within the industry. Read Full Article »

Follow the National Organic Standards Board Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA #NOSB

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

Join The Cornucopia Institute as we keep you informed via live tweet and web updates from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in Pittsburgh, PA October 23-25th.

We will be sharing the play by play both below and with our Twitter followers, at #NOSB or by simply following our stream.

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

8:55 AM ET: Opening Remarks 

Dr. Jennifer Tucker, Deputy Administrator of the NOP, welcomes all to the fall 2019 NOSB meeting.

A-dae is unable to attend and there is one vacancy on the board. A decisive vote will require nine votes.

Harriet Behar, chair of the NOSB, welcomes everyone and thanks the board for their work.

Each board member introduced themselves.

[A list of the current NOSB members can be found here.] Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute Hires Jonathan Rosenthal as Interim Executive Director

Friday, October 18th, 2019

The Cornucopia Institute is thrilled to announce the hiring of Jonathan Rosenthal as the new Interim Executive Director.  With this hire, Cornucopia is moving confidently to evolve into a more sustainable, relevant, and powerful voice in the good food movement. Rosenthal will shepherd the organization through a just, transparent, and collaborative transition while honoring the mission set forth by Cornucopia’s founders and board.

Jonathan Rosenthal

Rosenthal has spent decades promoting sustainable agriculture. In 1986, he co-founded Equal Exchange, which continues to build economically just and environmentally sound trade partnerships that foster mutually beneficial relationships between farmers and consumers. In 2005, he co-founded and led the first U.S. fair trade fruit company, Oké USA.

More recently he has worked as an executive director, consultant and advisor across fair trade, worker co-op, and new economy movements, helping organizations advocate for economic, ecological and racial justice for family-scale farmers. With experience that spans both the fair trade and organic movements, he is entrenched in a unifying cause: converting the destructive aspects of business into a positive force for people and the environment.

For Cornucopia, Rosenthal will analyze the organization’s structure and processes, provide staff, board, and financial guidance and support and set up a robust process for the hiring of permanent leadership in 2020. “I am thrilled and honored to join the talented team at Cornucopia and to return supporting the vitality of farmers and family-scale farms. Together we can grow the relationships and programs built over the past 15 years, while updating and strengthening the organization’s capacity to move boldly into the future. Over the next six to nine months, we will use this transition as an opportunity to pause, reflect, and develop a sharpened vision, revamped organizational culture, and enhanced capacity for deepening collaboration and impact.” Read Full Article »

Fall 2019 NOSB Meeting – Webinars: October 15 & 17

Friday, October 18th, 2019
Source: Mariah Dietzler, Flickr

Cornucopia’s director of domestic policy, Marie Burcham, JD, attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) pre-meeting webinars on October 15 and 17, where the NOSB heard comments from the public.

Our notes from this meeting are below.

Tuesday, October 15

NOSB members present:

Harriet Behar (January 2016 – January 2020) – NOSB Chair
Steve Ela (January 2017 – January 2022) – Vice Chair
Scott Rice (January 2016 – January 2021)
Sue Baird (January 2017 – January 2022)
Jesse Buie (January 2016 – January 2021) (joined late)
Tom Chapman (January 2015 – January 2020)
Lisa de Lima (January 2015 – January 2020)
James R. “Rick” Greenwood (May 2018 – January 2023)
Dan Seitz (January 2016 – January 2021)
Ashley Swaffar (January 2015 – January 2020)
Emily Oakley (January 2016 – January 2021)
Asa Bradman (January 2017 – January 2022)
Dave Mortensen (January 2017 – January 2022)

Not in attendance:
A-dae Romero-Briones (January 2016 – January 2021)

Introductions from Michelle Arsenault. She notes that the ZOOM webinar is being recorded and there will be a transcript provided as well.

Paul Lewis, Director of Standards Division from the National Organic Program (NOP), opens the meeting.

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