DAY 1: October 18, 2022
Jennifer Tucker: Gives introductory remarks; Nate Powell-Palm will be directing the comments as Board chair.
Starts with a role-call of the NOSB. https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/nosb/current-members
Nate: Goes over PPM rules for public comment. Refrain from making any personal attacks or remarks that might impugn the character of any individual.
Kiki Hubbard – Organic Seed Alliance Crops (CS);Materials (MS)
Director of advocacy and communications. Excluded methods and organic seed requirement. Support excluded methods recommendation that NOP create formal guidance, and the exclude/allowed methods tables created in previous proposals. As long as growers are souring conventional seed, it will continue to be difficult to get transparency behind the seed growers are using. There is no meaningful improvement in of the use of more organic seed over the past 15 years. NOP/NOSB should create a working group for seed; understanding availability by crop type. Goal of closing exemption for seed, without leaving growing in the lurch. Hope to see these recommendations made a priority.
Amy: Since our program is a global program, and many certs work overseas as well as domestic. Is ti possible to start getting data on global seed use as well?
Kiki: I do, will take concerted efforts and transparency from seed companies. IFOAM could play an important role in that work. We need to make more progress toward more organic seed being planted.
Russell Taylor – Humic Products Trade Association Crops (CS)
[This presenter has slides.] President. Humic acid manufactures; humic products are the end result of decomposition. SUB had almost no discussion of fortification or environmental concerns, which was the focus of Sunset. HA/FA (humic and fulvic acids) testing standards are from ISO 19822:2018. AAPFCO endorsed but most states are not enforcing HA/FA testing. We endorse the use of this standard. The SUB also posed concerns that reviews organics like OMRI are not enforcing NOSB rules allowing non-mined ingredients into HA/FA category. Guidance states HA/FA extracted from humates. The subcommittees concerns can be easily addressed by using third-party rules.
Amalie Lipstreu – Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Assoc. General Comment
[Gives the history of founding of OEFFA, created due to farmers and their families getting sick from pesticides/chemicals and changes in soil quality.] Society at large is now coming to understand the critical roles organic farmers provide; increasing amount of science to back up climate-smart use. There is no consensus definition of “climate smart”. Future research should include greenhouse impact of not using synthetic fertilizers and the benefits of organic farming. Climate research must extend. Have reservations of universal OSPs. Supports the idea that AMS has an important role to play with boosting the production of organic. Organic management should be lifted up as a positive example.
Abby Youngblood – National Organic Coalition (CACS; General Comment)
Over the past year, NOC and our partners have worked to activate support for organic agriculture across USDA and we’d like to highlight a few significant milestones:
- Secretary Tom Vilsack at USDA has publicly recognized the climate benefits of organic systems.
- USDA has launched a $300 million Organic Transition Initiative.
- The Origin of Livestock rule was finalized in March and the rule is meaningful.
- We anticipate a final Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule soon and the organic community is pushing hard for the finalization of the long overdue proposed organic animal welfare standards.
- And the NOSB is seeking a path forward to provide technical support to NOSB members and the NOP has allocated funding for this purpose – this is important to reduce barriers to serving on the NOSB, especially for farmers and those with fewer resources.
NOC is now turning to the Farm Bill legislation as a vehicle to strengthen organic integrity and increase support for organic agriculture. I encourage the National Organic Standards Board to engage with NOC and other advocates in this bigger picture thinking about the changes that are needed to address regulatory bottlenecks, reform certification cost share, increase participation from underserved farmers, to recognize organic as a climate change solution, boost funding for organic research, and more. When we see each other in Sacramento, I will have with me a document highlighting NOC’s top priorities in the Farm Bill legislation.
Later today, my NOC colleagues will testify on the detailed comments we submitted to you this fall.
For now, I’d like to draw you attention to the annotations chart in NOC’s comments. The National List requires specific and detailed annotations to restrict how materials are used, but those annotations can’t be made at sunset. For that reason, we strongly urge the Materials subcommittee to create a living document of annotations and to update that at every NOSB meeting. NOC has included in our comments a chart that can be a starting point for this work.
I’d like to express strong support for the NOSB’s work on excluded methods and to urge you to work in partnership with the NOP to assert that excluded methods are the law of the land for organic production. The organic community is united in our opposition to gene editing and other new GE techniques.
Finally, I want to thank the NOSB for your work on the risk mitigation table. Oversight of the NOP’s accreditation system is fundamental to organic integrity. The NOSB must pay close attention to the NOP’s annual peer review audits and other mechanisms to strengthen how the accreditation process is working.
Nate: [Asks Abby to repeat the highlights.]
Adam Seitz – QAI Handling (HS);General Comment
Sr. Technical Reviewer. NSF company and certifier. Ion exchange recharge materials should be included on the NL, but they are not ingredients they ae food contact substances. [Discusses the cimplication of citric acid as an ingredient and processing tool; citric acid is natural and often purified with ion exchange filtration methods.] QAI supports the option 1 for resins; more work may be needed in determining ability to regulate food contact substances. There are too many to regulate; it’;s not appropriate (slippery slope argrument). You’d have to consider things like the paint on a baler!
Darryl Williams Quality Assurance International (NSF) Handling (HS);Materials (MS);Policy Dev (PDS)
QAI supports fraud prevention but standardized forms are not the answer. Universal forms are a problem; templates are not. Forms should be up to certifier discretion and assessed during accreditation audits. Hold off on this discussion until SOE is finalized. NOP has already stated guidance about what specific information should be covered on forms, and even what regulatory vocabulary terminology and question certifiers should be asking on forms would be extremely beneficial. For example, questions regarding genetic modification did not always include the correct terminology for appropriate excluded methods. For example, manufacturer documentation that only refers to GMOs instead of excluded methods, or that reference rate regulation, etc. When we know these definitions are different from NOP requirements. Additionally, engineered nano-materials are becoming more common in food, and while NOP Guidance states that energy engineered nano-materials would not be permitted unless included on the national list. It’s uncommon for certifiers to be verifying high-risk ingredients against this requirement. We do not feel its appropriate to require certifiers to use standardized forms.
Nate: The goal of standardized forms: trying to figure out how we can aid the consistency of audits. How can we train inspectors and identify what materials to audit, what time frames, etc? With the goal of identifying red flags. How to increase inspector efficacy? Is this appropriate for ACA to work on?
It’s about your staring point and ending points, going with inventory levels. Every operation is going to be different. Guidance on what are the items that we are seeing be fraudulent the most and focus on those the most. Guidance has more footing than ACA.
Harold Austin organic stakeholder/former member of the NOSB (Crops General Comment
Director of Orchard Administration for Circle Fruit Company. Comments of support on behalf of PNW. Support re-listing of Nitrogen and CO2. Key for maintaining and storing apples. See our written comments for which tools are still needed. Of particular importance are the copper products: needed for fire blight control especially after the loss of antibiotics. Resistance management is very concerning and our industry has worked hard to avoid resistance. We must maintain a healthy material tool box. Support for comments from Northwest Agricultural Council you will hear later.
Brian: Copper Sulfate: how much is this used?
Harold: Finer grind than fixed copper, which is safer used later in growing season (instead use copper sulfate in Fall or early spring, before blossoms). Copper Good form of copper when mixed with oil or something so it adheres, but the fixed copper is safer to use in-season.
George Szczepanski – International Fresh Produce Association (Crops; General Comment)
IFPA represents every sector of fresh produce supply chain, and of that, approximately 500 companies specifically in organic supply chain. The produce industry needs to be considered with all materials decisions. IFPA has an organic produce committee. We support the continued use of several key materials; see our written comments and later comments from colleagues. Advocate for policies that foster don’t stifle future tools. Innovation that is in line with organic principles should be part of our continuous improvement.
Logan: On BBMF, did you see that most of your growers wanted it re-listed?
George: You will hear more from IFPA and some more of our growers. Especially in berry industry, BBMF is a very useful alternative to plastic mulch. We are looking for things that drive the industry forward. As this product is improved upon over the years it needs the dollars invested in it. You will hear more.
Nate: Do any of your members use this product (BBMF)?
George: It’s of particular interest to berry industry, but growers have commented on philosophical use of these kinds of products and hopeful it will be available.
Nate: Would like to jet the names of any products that are out there.
Emily Griep – International Fresh Produce Association (Crops; Handling; General Comment)
Vice president for regulatory standards for IFPA. Crops inputs the support continued use: CO2 as plant or soil amendment/enrichment and pH adjuster; polyoxin D zinc salts (essential fungicide for fruit and veggie production; aids in pathogen resistance); elemental sulfur, and BBMF. Certain sectors currently reply on plastic film for weed control and water conservation and there are not suitable alternatives right now; plastic inevitably ends up in landfill. Glad to see 80% approval of BBMF, hoping it will encourage innovation and make them more widely avail for all organic growers.
Amy: Polyoxin D: stakeholders have concerns about this substance’s effects on beneficial organisms. Comment? With BBMF and innovation; is there any other innovation happening in the sector as alternatives to plastics outside of placing films on the ground.
Emily: Not aware of effects on beneficial; I can speak to our members and see what we have available with that current research. Films on the ground are one of the only ways to suppress weed growth. No suitable alternatives. There is more research needed all around. Is there a way we can recycle plastics, for example? BBMF is the furthest along in research as an alternative. There needs to be a market to encourage manufactures to put time and resources into a product.
Dilip: Curious to know about producer safety training; is it mandatory on organic farms?
The produce safety rule was published in 2015, lots of training has been going on since then and it includes organic farms. There are some exemptions for size and “rarely consumed raw” produce. Requirements and training are the same for organic and conventional farms.
Mindee: Stuck in plastic vs. bio-based film. Is anyone focusing on biological or cultural methods rather than a synthetic methods?
Emily: We do have specific people working on research into other methods; we could get ou a mini-lit review and show who is using what products and potential alternatives.
Nate: Do you have any producers that have a product that qualifies under 80% BBMF?
Emily: we don’t have any producers at this point, I can try and confirm that though. It’s not used yet is my understanding. The listing is aspirational and as a goalpost.
Alice Runde – National Organic Coalition (General Comment)
Coalition manager for NOC. Comment on racial equity, in person comments, acres reporting.
Logan: Racial equity, and getting more BIPOC organic farmers. Where in the country can we accomplish this the most? On the research side it could also be a geographical need. Also: organic certification should equal climate smart; I agree and it was stated that there may be some separation between organic and regenerative and I disagree. There should not be a competing label, it’s concerning and there may be a mis-perception and consumers are now more interested in regenerative. Agree with your comments and hope consumers understand that.
Alice: most black farmers are in the South or Southeast, and one of the challenges is there are not enough certification agencies for Black farmers. It’s something we are looking at as it related to Organic Transition Initiative, etc.
John Foster – Wolf & Associates (General Comment)
COO and former NOSB member. Want to talk about the NL and how it’s applied. Let NL be inclusive and accommodating, create commercial availability registry to ensure consistency. If the criteria are met, list it! Concern that we are excluding opportunities for certain areas from being successful, especially in livestock. We tend to be too exclusive in thinking. Commercial availability registry: utility that caprutes and aggregates. Most important for seed; only way to move needle on organic seed use. Ensure consistent application of existing LOCA decisions. Apply commercial avail to section 205.605 such as flavors, yeast, collagen gel, etc. Demand for organic ingredients will equal organic farming opportunities.
Kyla: Comments focusing on definition, like for “food contact substance”… would it be helpful to develop our own definitions outside the definitions provided by FDA? To help us
John: Short answer: yes. Adding a definition should be straightforward; also allows us to “own” that as well. There is a vulnerability any time the regulation reaches out and references another definition (see inerts as a recipe for a problem).
Logan: Can you give us an example of a limited material for a certain area?
John: Three things that a year ago everyone would have laughed about global shortages. Mustard, sunflower oil, compressed CO2 for example. All things that were ubiquitous before. There is an intensity of supply chain fragility for conventional; and that has affected the organic industry. Organic does not have as much buying power so we will continue to be at a volume disadvantage. NL should be as inclusive as possible because we don’t know where our supply chain will fail and where things will be available.
Logan: We see it with polyoxin D, chicken litter.
Margaret Scoles – International Organic Inspectors Assoc. (CACS)
We train inspectors and provide networking services. Human capitol initiative: a big project has happened with ACA and IOIA: we struck a working group that started in January. Worked to produce a 64 page document. Struggled with some hard questions: inspectors are absolutely critical and there is a shortage of well-qualified inspectors. The inspectors co-op and apprentices, etc. are among various solutions. There is no one solution.
Kim: Recognizing that it’s not just one solution but the culmination of many. What is low hanging fruit that could be a leading way to solve the issue?
Margaret: Mentorship isn’t easy but it’s very important; missing rung in onboarding inspectors. We are talking with Department of Labor about a paid apprenticeship program. Getting good data is also low hanging fruit; there is no one who knows how many inspectors there are, the demographic of who stays in the job. And what happens with SOE? Continued collaboration between ACA and IOIA is also needed.
Steve Ela – National Organic Coalition (CACS; Crops; General Comment)
My comments will focus on four main topic areas:
Minimum Reporting Requirements
NOSB Technical Support
Ion Exchange Filtration
Essentiality of Materials with specific reference to crops and handling proposals and sunsets
Minimum reporting requirements: We agree with the need for a universal bill of lading that would assist with the tracking of organic shipments.
However, while we support that certain basic information should appear in organic systems plans or in inspector audit documents, we do not agree that a universal OSP is required. Organic farms and handling operations, as well as certifiers, are a rich and diverse group. A one size fits all document will likely end up fitting no one. Organic certification is based on processes and not exact practices. A producer or handler should have a chance to say what they are doing and then justify their reasoning as to how their practice complies with OFPA criteria. We would suggest that documents, containing at least the minimum requirements, be crowd sourced from the organic community and then allow inspectors or certifiers to choose a format that works best for their style.
NOSB Technical Support: We want to reiterate that we believe that technical support should be able to come from sources that are outside the USDA as well as within USDA. We want to see you, as NOSB members, receiving support sooner than later and we believe that each member should be able to identify the support they need and where that support should come from. Just as the NOP contracts with OMRI for technical reports, the NOP could contract with a similar type of organization to provide support for NOSB members.
Ion exchange filtration: As a former lead on this topic, it is simple yet complicated. NOC supports the individual listing of each resin on the National List. We understand the benefits of ion exchange filtration, especially with regard to the removal of heavy metals, but wish to avoid the blanket allowance of materials that has and continues to plague us in sunset reviews. Prior board discussions and votes have rejected, each time, the notion that these materials should be allowed for use as a blanket allowance. We support a phase in period by which currently allowed resins could be reviewed and individually added to the National List.
Essentiality of materials: The review of petitions, proposals and sunsets requires reviewing the details of each material and filling in the prescribed templates with those details. This is a useful process in determining whether a material could fit in an organic production system. But, the final question is not only could it fit, but should it be allowed. NOC asks that the Board look at the details of materials and then step back and look at the principles of organic production and ask if a particular material is actually essential and necessary. With that in mind, we ask that the proposals for potassium hydroxide, phosphoric acid, and peroxylactic acid be rejected since they are not essential to organic systems. Similarly the sunset materials of soap based herbicides, Vitamins C and E, attapulgite, acidified sodium chlorite and sodium phosphate, should be delisted unless they can be shown to be essential. Simply noting that they might be used is not a valid justification – each time they are renewed they should be documented that they are actually essential.
As a representative of NOC, it seems appropriate to finish with a NOC NOC joke. I would like to direct this to a comment on peroxylactic acid, also known as POLA.
Kyla: Ion exchange: it’s been taking a long time to make a correct decision. Do you or does NOC, would you define resins as processing aids or ingredients? How do you come to that conclusion?
Steve: We’ve seen problem with FDA definitions; what gets designated there is manufacture driven and there is not a good evaluation process for those definitions. If we rely on the FDA it’s a wide-open loophole. Resins do not exactly fit food contact definition. Since they are exchanging materials with foods, we would like to see them each individually listed. There are not that many resins, so it wouldn’t be an onerous process.
Kyla: Outside of FDA definitions and legal precedent of Harvey lawsuit, do resins meet either of those?
Steve: We think resins probably do; that’s’ why NOC is leaning toward individually listing them.
Logan: Can you talk about BBMF, what do you think about it?
Steve: Personally, on the fence. It’s an aspirational listing. NOC: deep concerns about BBMF will break down in all soils. Worry we will end up with a pollutant in some soils. Conceptually I love the idea, but practically I don’t think it’s there. Leaning toward de-listing.
Amy: Farmer hat: we need to hear whether farmers want acres on certificates? Preserving generational succession, that information could be useful? Is it helpful for small farmers to track their farm quality? Is it a disservice to not tell farmers it’s important relating to preserving the generational family farm?
Steve: I am a specialty crop farmer with block sizes of ¼ acre to 10 acres. Think that acreage reporting is a good thing; it’s great to be able to back-track. Tree fruits are easier because we have things in the ground for years. Probably lots of heartburn for vegetables. Should be risk-based and have some sizing exemptions. Recordkeeping is just good business. Family farms wont survive if not economic.
Phillip LaRocca – CCOF (Crops)
Owner and winemaker of LaRocca Vineyards, and chairman of BOD for CCOF and California advisory BOD for organic rules and certification of cannabis. Very involved with organic for a long time: example of the debates we keep hearing (example porches vs no porches). Integrity is what it’s all about. If we flex the rule a little we could get more people involved in organic production. Bottom line is this industry revolved around integrity! If we lose the concept of integrity we are not gaining any ground. What people think when they are buying organic: they think they are getting a truly distinguishable product. People think it’s okay to pay the extra amount of money for organic as long as it’s truly organic. When making decisions about NL keep concept of integrity. Welcome to California.
Terry Shistar – Beyond Pesticides (Misc.)
Beyond Pesticides means moving beyond the idea of “pests”, recognizing the balance of life. Your role on the NOSB is important for all agriculture. The climate change letter to Vilsack is good, but you need to stress the importance of conversion to organic farming. The USDA should abandon it’s promotion of chemically-intensive agriculture supported by the biotech/chemical industry in favor of whole-hearted support of organic agriculture? Climate benefits should be a prerequisite to receiving assistance form any of the USDA programs. Perosylactic acid: not supported by independent science. Ion exchange results in chemical change. If foods have been processed this way they are synthetic. BBMF: Should not be relisted, NOSB should initiate change to eliminate all uses of plastic.
Kyla: Ion exchange: water is one of the most common things to be purified though ion exchange? Is it then synthetic?
Terry: Yes maybe, if you are talking about softened water. All that means is that the NOSB should consider it and place things on the NL.
Rick: We’ve talked about limiting plastic rom agriculture: all my water lines are plastic. How do we get around that? Plastic has contact with water, which has contact with organic products.
Terry: The NOSB needs to develop a plan and figure out priority areas to tackle the plastic question. Where it’s in contact with the land and breaking down is a high priority. Risk-based
Jay Feldman – Beyond Pesticides (General Comment)
Our written analysis uses the three pillars of review: protection of health, compatibility with organic practices (impacts on biological systems), and essentiality. The history of the NOSB requires the assumption that a material be taken off the list, and only kept on with careful scrutiny. Continuous improvement. Organic consumers are not interested in shortcuts or elements of chemically intensive market. Organic takes the best and cuts out the worst: the goal of the NL is to ratchet down the materials as much as possible this protects and grows organic integrity. Themes for rejection NOSB review: BBMF, chlorohexidine, CO2 petition, polyoxin D without a full essentiality review, copper sulfate, etc.
Amy: Framework for essentiality: how do we balance new era of availability, and supply chain constraints and offering tools for producers to continue farming organically?
Jay: We are a flexible people at BP to do what is needed to sustain organic, to the extent we need exceptions as long as they are time-limited, and as long as we hold onto our values, we can benefit. There is a plus side to organic in the time of supply chain restrictions: there are high costs of synthetic fertilizers and other inputs, and alternative organic inputs are helping to stabilize the price of organic relative to the rest of the market. We have to compare organic to the overall increase in pricing.
Brian: Polyoxin D: farmers and growers are enthusiastic about this material, seems to be more effective. What are your concerns about it?
Jay: Main issue is that we don’t feel that is an adequate essentiality review. The three pillars: these are all areas of review that have to be looked at in coordination. Just on basis of essentiality alone where according to TR, sanitation, crop rotation, selection of resistant species, etc. are already part of the core of organic should not be replaces by an individual material. There is a problem of brad spectrum impacts and it can harm biological controls and ecosystem services on-farm. Conventional ag is learning from organic about ecosystem services, how can we do that with products of broad-spectrum effects?
Kyla: If people are doing the cultural and mechanical practices and they STILL need this product, then how does that not meet the essentiality requirements?
Jay: It’s the challenge of NOSB members need to widen the lens and ask what is available out here, what are the examples of efficacy and a the alternatives. Of course you will hear form individual farmers that need it because those are the ones that will show up. It is difficult. Farmers that are reliant on materials need it within the system the y are supporting. We need to elevate beyond that reliance.
Nate: In written comments you speak to leakage of resins and ion exchange. into organic foods.
Jay: There is more evidence than can be mentioned about leakage. I’d like to provide that in writing.
Kestrel Burcham – The Cornucopia Institute (General Comment)
See Cornucopia’s Policy Director comments here.
Nate: I have one semantic question for you and that is, when you talk about the “dedicated organic consumer”, how do we reach out the casual organic consumer and improve their participation? It seems like we do hear quite a bit from the dedicated. We still live in a world where organic food has a price difference and isn’t available everywhere (rural America). How do we grow that that pot of folks who see organic solution?
Burcham: We have so many ideas in that area, as you can imagine. The casual organic consumer is also hurt by these issues of the lack of consistency, and also that anti-organic propaganda which has been present since the beginning is getting stronger and stronger as organic gains in popularity. We hope to see more speaking-back to the anti-organic propaganda using the actual science and research that’s out there. We need fact-based advocacy for these farming systems. For that, we hope to see more support from the USDA and from Congress as we are coming up into the Farm Bill season. As far as getting these more casual organic consumers or people who don’t consume right now: we all needed to be involved in the marketplace practical solutions. It starts farm-level. We’d like to see more subsidies going toward climate-friendly practices, having organic always be climate smart… always making sure that organic farmers have programs that are supporting them including technical assistance. That then makes their price point more reasonable for everyday consumers without sacrificing integrity. Also just putting funds and resources towards research that supports these practices and making that data more accessible to consumers.
Unfortunately, we do hear from consumers that are more casual that they’re just confused. They’re confused by all the third party labels; they’re confused by messaging from different parts of that industry, including conventional ag, and it’s just a challenge to help clear that confusion. I think we just need fact based messaging that is accessible to consumers and very clear communication about the benefits of our organic food. And then also just assistance programs to make sure everyone has access to this incredible food.
Mindee: For me I’m curious if you could see value if the organic community spent more time talking about organics unique position in democracy and its unique public-private partnership as a regulatory framework.
Burcham: Yeah, I think that would be an interesting way to hook into it, actually. And I think that is one reason the anti-organic propaganda is actually gaining in steam right now, because there’s fears that there’s a public-private partnership that’s being represented here that is growing and can’t be ignored anymore. And it’s a good representation of also having production practices be regulated, which is can be scary to some of the big-industry/conventional-industry folks.
Jerry: I this may be a very hard one to answer, but if there’s are there 2-3-4 line items of cause for this “anti-organic propaganda”. I mean you know, being way old and knowing that you know there’s a price premium that that we’ve dealt with for a long time, but curious about the use of the term anti-organic propaganda. Can we find a source towards what drives people in that direction?
Burcham: You mean what drives consumers towards believing anti-organic propaganda?
Jerry: More who’s generating that and to what purpose. I’m sorry, not asking you to identify those who; just want to know what? What are the 2 or 3 core issues that are used and what drives people in that direction?
Burcham: The anti-organic propaganda we see most often includes that pesticides and GMOs are not harmful. Harmful is, of course, a very broad and subjective term. We could like talk forever about what harmful means. Right? We also see propaganda that cultivation practices that organic uses have no benefit. And another thing that I’m seeing more and more often just like in the past couple of years is this idea that you know we can’t feed the world with these production methods. Of course there is one area I think is a valid concern; that it’s an elitist label. I think we could use the most internal discussion on that concern within the organic marketplace. Not that we can’t feed the world with these production practices but the accessibility issue specifically.
There is so much research now showing the harmful effects of chemically intensive agriculture, and I think as that research has built the voices in opposition to it have been having to also amplify. We just need to be more cognizant as a marketplace that that [opposition] extremely strong out there. That consumers are hearing that [the organic industry] are liars; and I’ve experienced that personally when I send scientific studies. It’s very hard to speak back to that. But I think we just need to continue saying, “Hey, this is fact-based.” We have the research showing organic has actual benefits. We would like more research too, because certainly I think more research is always beneficial! And getting the support from the USDA about those facts is also important as well.
Jerry: Thank you very much for that. I’m glad I asked the question because when you got into things like feeding the world, I think there is a point there, and I think we do need discussion. I would broadly say that anti-organic propaganda, might also be just from those who feel threatened by some of what we do, and that’s not bad on us, or bad on them. But it’s an identifier as to where you might look to have commonality and discussion.
Maddie Kempner – NOFA‐VT (Crops; General Comment)
Hydroponics and container production cannot meet the current standards. We need these topics to go through NOSB discussion, recommendation, and rulemaking. The greenhouse item should be re-activated.
I’m going comment on 2 topics today, the first is really to hydroponic and container production, and the second is in response to the proposal regarding oversight and traceability, and infrastructure. VOF, which is our certification program here at NOFA, is part of an informal group of certification, education, and policy organizations who continue to agree that soil is the foundation of organic agriculture, and who strive to achieve consistency in our organizational policies and certification decisions.
We agree that soil is the foundation of organic agriculture, that a full reading of OFPA Sec. 6313 and the regulations requires plants be grown in the soil. Aeroponic, hydroponic, and crops grown to maturity, and containers do not comply with OFPA. Certifiers can’t achieve consistency in our policies and decisions until the NOP goes through the formal rule making process for greenhouse production standards. We agree that certain crops grown containers, including express micro greens, or transplants and mushrooms have historically been started at organic and should continue to be allowed to be sort of at organic moving forward. Urge the NOSB to activate the latent agenda item field in greenhouse container production which was listed on the NOSB work agenda from 2017 until spring 2021 as on hold, (but recently disappeared from that list). Want forward movement of this agenda item with the shared goal of group transparency and consistency and bring us into greater alignment with the global organic movement including a recent IFOAM position on hydroponics. Secondly, I would like to comment on the proposal related to fraud, prevention, and modernization of organic traceability.
VOF would comply with adding a grid to organic certain certificates to help address fraud in the industry. However, it’s important to ensure that this system works for small diversified producers. A typical vegetable farm in Vermont make room more than 71 different crops on about 50 acres of land. These producers often sell direct to consumers through a CSA/farmstand model, with some amount of product being sold to local restaurants and co-ops. Calculating The acreage of 71 different crops, which are often more appropriately measured in row feet will add, time and talk to the inspection and certification of these types of operations, while not necessarily resulting in less fraud. For this requirement to work we really need some flexibility in appropriate rules to allow small diversified farms to meet this requirement, and we would propose allowing mixed vegetables to be an acceptable category on certificates. Another option would be to require acreage for crops that are grown above a certain acreage (over to 2 acres, for example), or sold as a commodity or the sale, of which exceed a certain total value. For example, over $20,000 could be a threshold for that.
Whatever solution we come up with, it needs to work for those small diverse producers who would have a significant burden estimate in the percentage of an acre.
Beth Rota – Quality Certification Services (CACS)
QCS had organic integrity award in 2020. CACS certification has increased in time and expense, but is more robust. We do not support requiring crop acreage on certificates, because of the paperwork burden that would disincentives diversified farming. Certifiers already get access to crop records. Supports the proposal for technical support for the NOSB. There are several downsides for universal templates: they could limit annual improvement over time, and not be able to capture the diversity of operations.
Brian: Read that crop acreage could be proprietary, and I don’t understand that.
Beth: Businesses might consider that specific production records are private business information. That information is available to certifiers.
Brian: But if that information could help other certifiers and buyers identify fraud, how is the benefit to individual farmer (which many famers do not think is proprietary) outweigh the benefit of identifying fraud?
Beth: There are better tools and resources that would be more targeted. If certifiers can continue to work together and target improvements across the supply chain, that would be the most important.
Michael Crotser – CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley (Handling)
Certification director. Is this sanitizer compliant with the organic industry [see slide]? Dairy sanitizer compliance could be better. Sanitizer tags are all different, very difficult to track compliance. Most sanitation events happen at outside facilities not under organic certification.
There should be universal method for documenting sanitizer compliance. Using the tags seems simple. There are tanker losses due to sanitizer compliance. The industry need to look for solutions, there is a economic problem here.
Nate: This is a very useful format for feedback, thank you.
Heather Spalding – Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Assoc. (General Comment)
Deputy Director. Encouraged by focus on technical and financial support by BIPOC when they want to engage in organic farmer. When they are seeking to engage in organic farming we’re encouraged about the prospects of finalizing the strengthening organic enforcement rule and the proposed organic livestock and poultry standards, though we have flagged the need for important improvements to all OLPS, including a 3 year implementation timeline.
We appreciate the organic and climate smart agriculture discussion document. Organic certification should automatically qualify a producer for climate smart programs through USDA. Encouraged by secretary Vilsack’s recognition of organic as a climate solution. We hope the NOP will restore and enhance the organic cost share program and advocate for the protection of organic farms from pesticide and genetic drift, and provide clear guidance on the prohibition of genetic engineering in organic agriculture and we continue to oppose hydroponic farming under the organic label.
In our written comments we’ve provided a list of action items that could support current and prospective and NOSB members in their service, and address the backlog of NOSB recommendations. We continue to urge caution around biodegradable bio-based Mulch film (BBMF), and we feel that the material should be delisted, using a precautionary approach. The NOSB could consider a future petition for a safe petroleum free product that fully biodegrades in all environments.
PFAS: Maine is introducing safety net who find their livelihoods at risk due to PFAS contamination. We encourage everyone to engage in this national discussion.
Nate: three pillars that no GMOS, no irradiation, and no sewage sludge… it seems organic had incredible foresight re: PFAS.
Jaydee Hanson – Center for Food Safety (Materials; General Comment)
CFS has been closely involved with development of NOC comments, and wish to endorse those comments. Alternatives to BPA research: encourage all chemicals from bisphenols should be prohibited from organic, including food containers and wrappings. Companies say “no BPS” but have shifted to chemicals that are just as bad. PFAS and orthophalates should also be prohibited; all of these chemicals are hormone disrupting and can cause cancer and developmental disability. The FDA is moving too slowly; still the FDA does not set the standards for organic. EPA is moving a little faster; research found that about 83% of US waterways are contaminated with PFAS. CFS has worked with groups that are working on testing substances containing these chemicals. We will have worship on December 5th about these chemicals, and how to help organic set a standard that people will want to follow.
Ray Wowryk – Nature Fresh Farms (CACS; Crops; Handling; General)
Greenhouse vegetables, including conventional production. Commenting on behalf of IFPA, where I am a voluntary member. CO2: members support it’s continued use as algaecide, sanitizer, and soil amendment. Essential for plant growth especially in indoor farming. Support the use of sticky traps, barriers, and other pest controls.
Mike Dill Organic – Produce Wholesalers Coalition (CACS)
Minimum reporting and acreage reporting requirements. The universal OSP will help entering into other USDA programs, and provide framework for consistent inspections. It would reduce complexity by allowing familiarity with only one form. The OSP and inspection
Acreage reporting: OPWC strongly opposes this reporting. Supportive of anti-fraud measures, but not this one. If the NOSB votes we ask that an exemption be added for those that grow fresh produce. Fresh produce is the largest sector in organic trade. Need to define what is meant by “crop type”? Clarity here would allow stakeholders to evaluate how useful this proposal would be for fraud prevention.
Nate: You know some of the companies that you’re representing highlight, the uniqueness of small growers in the area in California. I think by letting people know acreage on the uniqueness of those growers make them successful. My belief but if we use a universal OSB I don’t think we will lose that success. I think it’s the opposite because I mean we all know the reality, that some operations shop around to see which certifier might align with them best, which has the easiest application process and OSP and so when I really think of you know what we’re trying to achieve with continuous improvement, sound and sensible certification? I think that by going universal or having standardization of those forms as important, you know it’s important for the inspectors?
Mike: I was an inspector, did hundreds of crop and handling inspections, and the preparation for the inspections was probably for me the hardest part, and I had to navigate through. You know people’s OSPs which even under the same certifier are way different in what type of material or information is in there. I feel anything that we can do to level the playing field; make it easier on the inspectors whom we are asking so much from.
It’s going to be hard to get a [universal form] to work for each one of those, and if not, then we haven’t gained anything.
So I think there’s more, worth in and taking a shot and working toward a universal OSP, universal certificate, just so that the trade and stakeholders can really what what we’re doing. We can become experts in interpreting documentation and records and all that. With over70 certifiers and 45,000 certified operations, trying to make an audit tool that works for all of those is difficult.
Logan: But so I’m going get off of the acres I got more of a question: I think that standardizing making the procedure for you to report, or for inspectors to report and making that that kind of checklist standardized would be helpful. I’m curious on the specialization of inspectors on certain crops. So an idea that I’ve always had is what if like if growers were able to help or ride out for example growing organic broccoli in the southeast you know actually specializing in that and when you’re going to check a form that has that that produce. You know what to ask for, because, you know, there are some things that are not normal like you need ice. In short differences where people can fraudulently get around because the inspector is not familiar with the entire process. Or like if you’re growing grain in the southeast. I’m sorry you’re not picking it at 15%. You’re going to some dryer is that drier on your list, you know. So yes, we do need some standardizing. And then we also need some really specialized things to help these inspectors who are going all over the country. How do you go from a dairy in Tennessee to a produce form, and South Georgia, etc.
Mike: Good to have best practices; Guides. Kinds of resources that inspectors can use. To understand processes would be super helpful. Should that be part of an OSP?
Brian: I think we need just need total acreage and so I don’t I don’t really see what the problem is here, and i’m sure that the decision about how to list crops can easily be fixed. So I’m really still struggling with this resistance.
Mike: This this proposal. it’s just not gonna work the same for produce as it would for grain. If I’m buying 30 different types of vegetables from this grower, and I just know that they have you know 26,000 acres of mixed vegetables I’m not going to be able to discern any information about fraud, unless I buy more than you know. It is too early for us to tell if it’s gonna be useful. So I think the real key is, you know, honing in on crop type, and really kind of defining this proposal more than just you know what it is right now.
Nate: So you’re saying you want you have concerns about the definition of crop type, and in the other component to the if you want, if we send it back to subcommittee, the other thing you want to see fixed or exemption specialty. You want an exemption for produce. but is it a good look for produce saying, Don’t look at us so close not at all.
Mike: Not at all so. But the way this is presented is this is our proposal. If you go for it we’ll we want to make exemption. I can’t speak for grain and it’s you know it’s obvious from reading this that that was kind of the emphasis behind. I can see how this might work for grain, and it might work even better for grain coming from certain regions. But I want something that’s gonna work.
Mike: Well, first of all that’s proven to work and that’s going work for all sectors because i’m really concerned about the burden that this is going add for growers for produce growers. The benefits come to grain, and they have the least amount of burden. The least amount of benefit and the untested benefit for fraud prevention would be on the growers of some specialty crops. They would have the highest burden. When you add in the factor of not knowing what level we’re going dig down to on certificates we don’t know what SOE will change on certificates.
Amy: The information that you displayed with that very extensive certificate just went to show that this information is available. Isn’t this information being collected by these large operations already, or are you under the standpoint that they would have to start tracking new information? Where does the burden comes from?
Mike: It’s going change constantly and so that is our fear is that they’re going to have to continuously report. If we want this data to be accurate and useful for people in the trade, it needs to be real time, and they have to report it and if they don’t, and an inspector finds out that you know you had 3 harvests of carrots out of field b and you only report it to now you’re getting a non-compliance. Problem of the potential for more non-integrity based non-compliances; something we should avoid. but on top of this when you’re growing on 715 parcels like this one grower is, and you make one change. It’s a burden on several folks, the buyers as well. The burden is definitely on the growers, especially the specialty crop folks. Last thing is some certifiers charge like $50-75 per OSP update or certificate change.
David Epstein – Northwest Horticultural (Council Crops; Handling)
Sticky traps: support the re-listing, principle method for establishing when pests become active in the orchard, establishing size of the pest population. Coppers: are absolutely necessary for apples and pears. We use models to predict fire blight risks. Coppers are not used every year, just when threat of infection is high. In bad years fire blight can devastate an orchard.
Dan Langager – Northwest Horticultural Council (CACS; Crops; Handling)
Human capital support: the source of technical support should come from AMS and all agencies. Expertise from vetted experts is important.
Mark Kastel – Organic Eye (General Comment)
Animal welfare rule is one of the largest betrayals I’ve witnessed. Not going to change the fact that all the eggs are being produced by vertically integrated eggs. Ethical farmers and chickens lose. Don’t confuse “access to pasture” with actually going outdoors. Virtually no chickens are outside now and they won’t be when this rule goes through. Let’s chop off the beaks of these birds. Birds won’t go outside because there is no food or water or shade. They will not all over concrete or gravel area where they can actually perform natural and instinctive behaviors. The new rules allow up to 21 weeks of total confinement before outdoor access is required. Conflict of interest: corporations contribute to certifiers, and certifiers lobby the NOSB and NOP. Certifier and the non-profits receiving corporate money are linked.
Christie Badger – general public (General Comment)
Active independent organic inspector.
Nicole Dehne – Vermont Organic Farmers LLC (General Comment)
Modernization of organic traceability: VOF would comply with branched organic certificates, but we want to make sure the system works for small diversified veggie producers. For example selling 70+ varieties on 50 acres, tallying all that data matching crops to acreage will be a burden and not help deter fraud. “Mixed vegetables” should be an acceptable category. Or maybe only list tings grown as a commodity (not direct to consumers) or have a certain acreage trigger (like 2+ acres of one crop). Minimum reporting requirements: a one size fits all approach to traceability is problematic. Establishing baseline procedures, templates as models, etc. would be okay as long as they are not required. We have 6 different mass-balance templates we use. A one-size-fits-all templates for audits isn’t useful; we do use templates but we tailor them. If templates are too board we don’t get the info we need.
Kelly Skoda – CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley Handling (HS)
Certifications specialist. Casings from processed intestines: supports continued listing on National List. Organic Meat Company is a subsidiary, natural casings are desired for traditional sausage. Organic casings are not yet commercially available. Organic hog production is only .47% of the USA total production and small plants do not have the infrastructure to save the intestines. Organic segregation of casings can be a challenge in larger plants.
Todd Linsky – Todd Linsky Consulting ‐ general public (CACS)
Organic and climate-smart agriculture: no mention of how water plays into climate amrt ag. The urgency surrounding water is an oversight, seeing how rationing for crops, sinking land, and lack of drinking water are all urgent problems. Time to stop the divide and making organic food only for the elite; ag is embracing technology. Greenhouses, aquaponics, hydroponics, etc. are all climate smart just like soil but with different attributes. How will we feed more people better food with fewer resources. It’s time to be motivated to find potential ways to feed 9.5 people organic food.
Nate: There is a difference between a discussion document and a proposal? We want folks telling us what to add and it sounds like you want to add water and technology to the proposal.
Conor Mylroie – ProFarm Group (Crops; Livestock; General Comment)
[formally named Maron Bio Innovations.] Develops effective and environmentally responsible microbial and plant extract products or pest management. Would like to see continued listing and use of several micronutrients. Specifically, sulfates, CO2, silicates, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, selenium, etc. Deficiencies of these can cause irreversible crop damage and loss. There are areas of the US where the soil does not have these micronutrients. As more areas experience persistent drought, it’s important to be able to correct deficiencies.
Brian: Is there research or development for natural sources of these micronutrients?
Conor: Erica will know more about what’s going on in development.
Erika Rohr Luke – ProFarm Group (Crops; Livestock; General)
Micronutrients: There are some that can be naturally derived but some are synthetically derived. The use of micronutrients are needed in small amounts and they are consistent with the principles of organic agriculture. Soil analysis is required by NOP regulations. Thank you for the NOSB on their work on inerts. I’ll connect with our R&D team about the question about natural sources for these minerals.
Katrina Hunter – The Organic Center (General Comment)
Kate Mendenhall – Organic Farmers Association (General Comment)
My name is Kate Mendenhall, I am the Executive Director of the Organic Farmers Association. OFA represents a strong national voice for domestic certified organic farmers. Today I will be addressing Compliance, Accreditation, & Certification topics.
Proposal: NOSB Technical Support: We have spoken to this point before and support research assistants for NOSB members. We have concerns about these assistants being USDA employees for both the potential conflict of interest and the pervasive lack of organic knowledge within the USDA. The board functions well currently, and research assistants should not interfere but support individual members’ research needs as directed by the board member. We also urge the NOP to consider expanding the approved reimbursable expenses to help farmers on the board cover costs they incur to participate in the meetings, such as the cost of hired help for their farm while performing board duties.
Fraud Prevention: OFA appreciates the Board’s work on deterring fraud, it continually ranks as a high priority for farmers. We support the subcommittee’s proposal requiring acreage reporting and their recommendations to the NOP regarding small-diversified growers. The reporting should account for succession planting where total acres/crop may exceed total farm acres. Organic paperwork is already burdensome for farmers, so streamlining this requirement and making sure it aligns with farms using paper records is important.
Traceability requirements must consider the different marketing structures of various commodities; tracing sales data for commodity corn is very different from tracing sales data for highly perishable wholesale market vegetables with many buyers.
In addition to oversight of certifiers, NOP must provide clear guidance when there is a discrepancy or questions on how organic standards should be interpreted. Any guidance should be transparent and distributed to all accredited certifiers. Regarding standardized forms, we encourage a pilot project focusing on areas of high fraud risk like grains to identify how it affects certifiers, inspectors, and farmers. We support exploring common forms for consistency and encourage collaboration with certifiers to identify the best existing models for replication and trial as well as assess what forms farmers currently use. Common forms do have a positive ability to create more consistency among certifiers and expand the opportunity for translation.
Finally, I’d like to support more board and NOP attention to racial equity within the organic community and efforts to actively address barriers to organic certification and success. While organic certification is understandably rigid as a regulatory system and at times that is incredibly important, at times prioritizing our humanity and our commitment to the principles of care and fairness is equally if not more important. Understanding our cultural differences, barriers to entering agriculture, and additional societal weight that people of color unfairly carry is important to expand who gets and stays certified organic. As forms are created and systems refined, ensuring a racial equity lens is applied must be a top priority.
Dana Perls Program Manager – Friends of the Earth (Materials (MS))
Food and Tech Sr. Manager. Research priorities: supports NOC recommendation to improve research and guidelines related to genetic engineering. We need more information about how transgenic DNA impacts the environment, including the traits in a compost pile. Should develop and implement methods to assess the genetic integrity of crops, especially those at high risk. The NOSB should quantify the current state of integrity for organic and conventionally produced non-GMO seed. We support the improvements and updates to the organic standards.
Mindee: Concerned about the recent Executive Order to advance biotech, especially with lack of support fro USDA concerning excluded methods. How can organic move forward?
Dana: EO is unfortunate. It’s important that the NOSB advocate for increased funding toward advocacy work surrounding genetic engineering. Otherwise the difference in money and resources could be a problem. Organic is one of the most appropriate climate-smart technologies and that needs to be promoted in opposition to the conventional ag pushing GE, like with drought-resistant crops.
Dilip: You mention microbes in compost. GE modified microorganisms can affect the compost and impact organic crop production: where can we find more information on that?
Dana: Most of the information is from Peer reviewed academic studies, and how these microorganisms are persistent in the story. Increasing amount of research looking at unintended impacts. There are some studies coming out with a focus on soil. This is an area that need more funding for research.
Malaika Elias – General public, Campaigner at Friends of the Earth (Materials)
Comments about Handling Committee: the proposal for alternatives to BPA is important, but insufficient. PFAS, orthophalates, etc. are found in packaging and machinery. They are linked to health problems. Suggest deeper dive into plastic alternatives more broadly. NOP should advocate for organic agriculture as climate smart. Some of the worst climate offenders will be getting congressional funding for false solutions posed by the biotech industry.
Jane Sooby – CCOF (CACS)
Over 4k certified organic farms, handlers, processors. Producers should be rewarded for growing climate smart; studies are clear that organic is climate smart. CCOF summarized this research in our2019 report, road map for California. Certified organic operations should be acknowledged as early adopters, should reward existing organic operators and incentivize more transition.
Logan: See a problem down the road for markets, and whether sales/marketing side bottleneck will stop organic from growing?
Jane: We have an organic transition program we are growing in the state. Building out market support and market opportunities is an important piece of that work. That is a crucial part of transition strategy.
CCOF is hosting an in-person get-together on the 26th.
Emily Musgrave – Driscoll’s Inc. (Crops)
Regulatory manager. BBMF should stay on NL. The use of plastic mulch is not sustainable due to the amount of waste; can’t be recycled due to the dirt contamination. Consumers expect that organic label means famers are being as sustainable as possible. Supports re-listing of elemental sulfur; it’s needed for strawberries and powdery mildew. Supports re-listing of polyoxin D.
Dilip: You said you work internationally; BBMF is still not commercially available, so how much use and what is the status of BBMF internationally?
Emily: I mostly work in the US and Mexico. We have a global R&D team that I can ask. A lot of our conventional growers were trialing the BBMF on their conventional fields; there is a lot of interest.
Amy: Are there products that currently are in sue by organic growers?
Emily: I’ll have to check. I know it’s being trialed by conventional growers. As a huge plastic user we are in favor of alternatives.
Mindee: Are any of your growers working on biological or cultural methods instead of films?
Emily: Growers have tried it, but the efficacy hasn’t been there. I can get more information on how much as we have tried.
Jackie DeMinter – MOSA Certified Organic (Misc)
Commenting on CACS acreage and minimal reporting requirements recommendation. We support preventing fraud but have concerns. Taxonomy is challenging, making acreage and cropping data public could overshare confidential information. The information reported must be valuable, and most information is currently reported in “other” category. Templates could be part of the learning center and certifiers could use those documents as a baseline. We have a certified crop addendum; handling double crop acres.
Nate: Taking your COPS document and having that be an addendum to acres on certificates, do you see trouble with that? Audits normally look several years back. How can inspectors be better equipped to raise red flags (for overselling or overproduction)?
Jackie: Standardized/template audit documents would be helpful. Agree that inspectors should be looking back years. We need to have a developed risk-assessment guidance.
Dilip: Thoughts on the split operations (organic/conventional)?
Jackie: We require our farmers to report all their conventional acres, which we report. It is a risk factor we identify. It should be [part of the audit and reporting requirements.
Johanna Mirenda – Organic Trade Association (CACS; Crops)
Farm Policy Dir. OTA is leading voice for promoting and protecting organic trade. Risk mitigation: supports the proposal for revising the risk mitigation table. Support broadening the assessment to include favoritism, undue influence, and risks form certifiers within State Departments. BBMF: OTA supports the re-listing. It’s just added to the OMB unified agenda of regulatory agenda, an indicator of regulatory progress! De-listing at Sunset would disrupt this rulemaking process. De-listing would deter prioritization of funding and research on biodegradable mulches that are safe and OFPA compliance.
Mindee: We don’t know what the impacts on the soil are, but you say the risks are worth it?
Johanna: Re-listing allows the opportunity for that research to proceed. For example there is a spring organic confluence conference horses by the Organic Center. If de-listed it would remove the motivation and incentive to continue discussion and research.
Amy: Are there any NL items that are not real products, like BBMF that is aspirational? Is there a precedent?
Johanna: This is a unique instance. Oil-free nitrogen on 605 comes to mind.
Laura Holm – Organic Trade Association
Govn’t Affairs Associate for OTA. We know organic is climate smart due to it’s foundational focus on soil health. Our comments provide examples of existing fdta that support the link between organic practices and climate mitigation, and we have pointed to research that the USDA should prioritize. USDA should fund more lifecycle analysis. USDA should provide technical assistance and funding for any farming wishing to implement multi-paddock grazing, which is model after indigenous livestock. We need culturally relevant technical assistance, especially with advisors fluent in languages other than English (Spanish, Mong).
Amber Sciligo The Organic Center (CACS; Materials)
Tom Chapman – Organic Trade Association CACS;General Comment
Tite Colin General public Policy Development (PDS)
Tahir Awan – Public (Crops (CS))
DAY 2: October 20, 2022
Jennifer Tucker: Gives introductory remarks; Nate Powell-Palm will be directing the comments as Board chair.
Starts with a role-call of the NOSB. https://www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic/nosb/current-members
Liz Graznack to join later.
Angela Wartes – Organic Integrity Cooperative Guild (CACS; General Comment)
Board President. Proposals in CACS. The lack of acreage reporting impacts fiber commodity trading (cotton, wool, etc). The GOTS standards are already requesting this information, and textiles often go through that process of GOTS certification already. We are at a disadvantage when a clear acreage isn’t on the certificate; needs to be connected to crop and expected yield especially for cotton. Inspectors need access to this information to do our job correctly. The data should be available on the organic integrity database, not just to certifiers. Support technical support for the NOSB.
Nate: The OICG has a lot of experience in inspection side. Crops on certificates question: when you’re at an inspection do you think it’s feasible for inspectors to look up suppliers and look them up on the OID?
Angela: I use the OID all the time. I’ve never been on an inspection where every certificate was accurate, current, etc. Many things require inspectors to take a deeper dive and the OID is a good tool for that. I would use this data for example to ensure crop yield from say a hay producer is accurate.
Amy: How can this information become beneficial for finding fraud?
Angela: Most of the other standards look at mass balance and follow it from field, to gin, to warehouse, to buyers and every step throughout the way. So they follow how much cotton was available to the market. So they notice when there is more buyers than there is cotton! It’s easy to have fraudulent cotton. So there has to be transparent tools already built into the system. It’s going to become imperative to participate in these tools.
Brian: What are GOTS and OID stand for?
Angela: Global Organic Textile Standard. It’s outside the scope of the NOP, it starts at the gin level for cotton. OID is organic integrity database.
Garth Kahl – Common Treasury Farm, Independent Organic Services, Organic Integrity Cooperative Guild (Misc)
Support the proposal for NOSB technical support. Minimum reporting requirements and acreage reporting – I agree with IOIA’s stance on these discussion documents. Acreage needs to be on certificates. Minimum reporting: am in favor of ACA and IOIA working with NOP to make best practices and continuing education. Do not create a universal form. Stable regulatory environments benefit consumers and producers. Maintain all sunset materials on the NL and treat ion exchange membranes like food contact services. The current approach isn’t broken and does not need fixing. The selection of organic in chain stores in the UK is much less than in the USA.
Amy: As a farmer, there is clarity on what documents we need to create on the front end, but on the back end minimum reporting standards for bills of lading and transactional-type documents – would that be useful? Do we need these nuts and bolts from every operation?
Garth: Always a need to make it clearer for producers about what inspectors are going to be looking for. But different commodity types are going to have vastly different traceback information. Universal bill of lading: not sure that farmers want to go to every buyer and say that “your bill of lading must meet this authority”… not sure the USDA can require that. Better training, making it easier for the producer while still being able to verify data – solution is to train inspectors better.
Kyla: On ion exchange: we have definitions of processing aids and ingredients in the regulations. Hung up on whether resins meet those definitions or the FDA definition of food contact surface. Do you think we should propose our own definition of food contact substance?
Garth: Yes, I think it would be helpful to have our own definition. Disruption in the processing and would have to list a myriad of other things if this is changed.
Nate: I am a member of OICG. Can you speak to the leakage in resins.
Garth: Gwendolyn Wyrd is source of knowledge for resins. The idea of leakage comes form a document called “ion exchange for dummies”. The ion exchange membrane are exchanging ions, and indesireabale things are binding on the membrane. One the membrane gets full it’s less effective, it releases some of the filtrate that should have been filtered out. So the leaking is the material that was filtered out.
Amy van Saun – Center for Food Safety (Livestock)
Sr. Attorney. Spent 4 years litigating the withdraw of OLPP. Now we have the new OLPS. CFS is happy to see that the USDA has full authority to set standards for the humane living conditions. There is a threat of market failure here. Organic should be the gold standard, and farmers shouldn’t have to rely on 3rd party labels,
OLPS should be clarified to ensure there is meaningful outdoor access to all poultry. USDA should require better than 50% concrete for all birds. There should be more room per bird, the USDA choose the low end of spacing. There should be a set minimum of doors. Remove the definition of soil, as this was not vetted or recommended by the USDA. Should define maximal vegetation. There should be beed restrictions. Pigs are notoriously absent from this rule and there should be spacing and outdoor access requirements for them too. CFS supports 3 year implementation time.
The comment period closes November 10th.
Julia Barton – Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (General Comment)
Good afternoon, my name is Julia Barton with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. Thank you for your facilitation of this online forum and for your service.
Today I’d like to highlight input on three topics:
FIELD AND GREENHOUSE CONTAINER PRODUCTION: OEFFA is part of a working group of certification, education, and policy organizations who agree that soil is the foundation of organic agriculture, and who strive to achieve consistency in our organizational policies and certification decisions.
We urge the NOSB to activate the latent agenda item “Field and Greenhouse Container Production and lead our community in a discussion of this essential topic.
Further, because aeroponic, hydroponic, and crops grown to maturity in containers do not comply with [OFPA 6513(b)(1)], and because there is significant inconsistency in the way these forms of production are being handled by organic certifiers presently, we urge the board to call for a moratorium on the certification of new operations in this category until we can utilize our existing NOSB and rulemaking process to move forward with greater consistency.
We agree with the subcommittee’s recommendation that NOP require certifiers to list a certified operation’s acres by crop type and total acres on the organic certificate. OEFFA currently includes certified acres by crop type on our organic certificates and we would be happy to add total organic acres. As a community, we will need to come to consensus regarding the granularity of details in reporting double cropping and small-scale production. We think that’s do-able, and we look forward to it.
OEFFA supports the concept of this discussion document, and we might differ a bit when it comes to the details. Specifically, we support a Universal Bill of Lading. This is a specific document used in a specific way at a very busy time of year. A standardized form, in this case, has a good chance of reducing fraud. We support it.
We do not, on the other hand, support standardization of everything, and specifically, we have concerns about at Universal OSP. Culturally, organic is known for transparency and willingness to share information. OEFFA farmers regularly help bring new transitioning farmers into the fold and mentor one another regarding production practices and recordkeeping. Similarly, many certifiers and organic educational organizations offer recordkeeping templates both in print and digital forms for not just their operators, but all organic operators to use, should they choose. We are supportive of this type of crowd-sourced, cooperative effort, and we know it benefits organic producers, handlers, inspectors and certifiers.
That said, the need to use any given form exclusively reaches well beyond the requirements of recordkeeping in OFPA, and could cause both confusion and inefficiencies for operations or types of audits which don’t “fit” the form in question. Let’s not fall into the “standardization is always more efficient” trap, but rather learn from our experience in agriculture that diversity (in this case of recordkeeping and documentation) is not only navigable, but also positive and beneficial.
Amy: How long has OEFFA been displaying acres on certificates?
Julia: At least 10 years.
Amy: You noted some of the common non-compliances farmers have is with record keeping, so would minimum reporting requirements help? I know you are supportive but concerned about strict reporting requirements.
Julia: A lot of those non-compliances have nothing to do with fraud. Need to zero in on really important reporting requirements. We have good options already, like modular OSP. We share templates and ideas with producers when they are going through transition. We need more educational support when people are transitioning (5 years before and after transition). I think folks need help and not to be overly regulated during that period. Standardization is a slippery slope, it often does not achieve the outcomes we are seeking. That is our concern.
Kyla: Saying the template is only as good as the person using the template, then?
Julia: Not exactly what I was saying, but it’s also a good point.
Kim: Acres on certificates. Do you keep records on how many records were decertified or caught with fraud due to having this information?
Julia: We keep very strong records. We also track non-compliances, but folks have a chance to correct those. It’s a very small percent we decertify.
Nate: The revocations are an NOP data point as well, so we can get that data through them.
Lisa DeVetter – Washington State University (Crops)
Soil-biodegradable plastic mulches (BDM). Common misconceptions must meet standards for biodegradation. Researchers use the standard EN17033. Excludes oxo – and photo-degradable. 75-95% are feedstock ingredients and the remainder are additives. Feedstock’s may be biobased or derived from fossil fuels, but most are the blend of the two. In-soil biodegradation is not correlated with biobased content (does not mean it will degrade better is 100% biodegradable). I am a researcher – research referenced in our written comments. No negative impact on soil health (physical, chemical, etc.) over 2-4 year period. We are researching longer term use. They are an opportunity to reduce plastic waste generation. Precedent for their use in Europe organic systems (ex. In Italy).
Brian: Bio-based, that seems synonymous with “natural” but it’s not? What about the identifications of particulates?
Lisa: It does not necessarily mean it’s non-synthetic, yes. The final product can be a synthetic material. In coming research we are going to be looking at in finer resolution, trying to find fragments that are harder to visualize.
Dilip: Any information on how long these BDM products, how long have companies been suing them? How long they take to degrade?
Lisa: 4-6 years in NW Washington. Very dependent on temperature and climate. All the commercial products that meet the standards are a blend of bio-and-non so that’s what we research.
Logan: Can you explain the soil health studies? Has any of the human health been looked at? Who is driving the research?
Lisa: Earthwork counts, carbon counts. Physical components including aggregate stability. Chemical components like C and N. No changes due to biodegradable mulch, but changes based on season. Looked at after 4 years after continual BDM application. There is a lot of interest, but haven’t seen anything on PE mulch and BDM. Plants are able to take up the microplastics from PE mulch, so there is some risk of bioaccumulation. We don’t have that research for BDM yet. Usually bare ground is not used as a control, PE films are used as controls. We’ve started looking at bio-based hydro-mulches, just started. We haven’t been researching cover crop mulches. Driving the research: conventional and organic stakeholders. Funding coming form specialty crop agriculture programs. OERI funding some too.
Javier: Have participated as a grower in some of this research. It’s helpful for growers in our central coast; not there yet and more research is needed. Do you think that plastic conventional mulch is being left behind in the soil; creating more harm to the soil than BDM would do?
Lisa: There are risks to using PE in agriculture. Plastic remains on the surface after use, goes to waterways and impacts soil health. Risk is hard to comment on. With BDMs I think there is a good opportunity it will be safer than PE mulch. BDM uses feedstocks that do biodegrade and good indications it does not cause home. There is a need for more research into longer term effects. Some of the existing standards look at eco-toxicity effects. BDMs are used already, so there may be an inhibition for US growers.
Leslie Touzeau – Quality Certification Services (QCS) (General Comment)
Material review manager. CO2: QCS has not received any input from growers as a pH adjuster. As a plant amendment we do support it; continue o evaluate it for this use. Ion exchange recharge materials should be included on the NL. The resins, we do not require to be on the NL. Need clear definitions and standardization in how we review these substances. We support renewing BBMF; we want to keep the door open for future product development.
Kyla: Would it be helpful to provide a definition for food contact substances?
Leslie: Yes, as a certifier the most important thing is consistency across certifiers. The FDA hasn’t given the clarity we are seeking.
Nate: Resins: they are reviewed as food contact surfaces on OSPs right now?
Leslie: Yes correct, but they are not on the NL.
Bryce Irlbeck – B&b Irlbeck Farms (CACS; CS; PDS)
Producer, consultant in farming and food processing. Improve integrity and efficiency. Strengthen the integrity of the US certification because they are competing with ships coming in with “organic” grain. Adding acres to certificate would help; we already provide this data and it’s already in the system plan. It would not add any extra work for producers or certifiers. Support standardizing audit process across the board.
Tim Cada – organic farmer producer (CACS; Crops)
Farming organically for 29th year in Nebraska. We need to have acres listed. Integrity is important but money can change that sometimes. We could have what we grow listed on the database and adding the aces would be a good thing. We know of organic producers that use pesticides in the field and the certifiers say it is okay. If you wait to buy soybean seed the organic will be at and then you are allowed to buy conventional. There is too much discrepancy in our rules. Seen inspectors go into bean fields hit by dicamba, which is easy to see, but they never notice. Among the biggest problems is dicamba drift, it should be outlawed within 5 miles of certified organic.
Nate: You feel it’s worthwhile to have acres on certificates.
Tim: There should be no privacy in this. If you’re getting certified it should be open for everyone to see. We farm 1600 acres and ranch about the same.
Brett Blaser – Scoular, Senior Merchant (CACS; Crops)
Work at non-GMO and organic cleaning facility. Echo what Bryce and Tim were saying. Important to have crop type and acres on the certificate. This will help fraud. If you’re not for-it you are red flagging yourself.
Kim: Are there other organic non-GMO elevators in your area that you source today? When I look at acres on certificates; could a farmer contract with you what would look like reasonable acres and then contract with someone else with the same number of acres?
Brett: Yes there are some. We just do food-graded based at my plant, not feed grade. We are the only food grade based cleaning facility. As soon as we have contract agreement and look at certificate and take into consideration accurate bushels through acreage. We check the OID. We contract by number of acres not number of bushels currently, but that may be changing.
Bill Wolf – Wolf & Associates, Inc. & Second Star Farm (Misc)
Organic farmer and consultant. The NOSB needs more support: assure accurate and complete information in proposals; summarize comments; draft actionable, enforceable recommendations and regulatory language; provide history of discussions and decisions. The NL needs to be a robust toolbox for farmers. Re-list BBMF. Allow it as originally petitioned; unworkable annotations were added. Organic farmers have limited toolbox. Earthworms are out mascot. Please see our written comments.
Mark King – Upward Farms (Crops)
Organic program manager. Upward farms is an aquaculture company. Support that CO2 added as a plant or soil amendment. It has been around for a lone time. CO2 is safe and positively impacts crop yields up to a certain point [see slides]. 37% of the estimated need of CO2 needs for our production can be captured from our aquaculture operation. The remainder of the plant needs: the non-synthetic CO2 is very rare in marketplace.
Logan: Most people agree CO2 is relatively safe; we are requesting a TR before ruling on CO2. Should there be a limit to how much is used?
Mark: In controlled environment operation including greenhouses, no one is going to use a detrimental substance. So there is a natural threshold that would keep a plant happy. Operations wouldn’t exceed that anyway.
Robert Rankin – International Food Additives Council Handling (HS)
IFAC supports re-listing CO2, and sodium phosphates, and pectin. No meaningful negative health outcomes with increases phosphorus in diet; phosphates remain safe food ingredients. Want to expand the use of sodium phosphates to add to meat products and sanitization. There is insufficient supply of organic pectin.
Mark Lipson – Co‐President, Molino Creek Farm LLC Consulting as Pacific Plate Policy Strategies (General Comment)
Former organic policy advisor. Affiliated with center for agroecology at UC Santa Cruz. Want to acknowledge the USDA’s increased support for organic. The 300mil transition grant: we need to be prepared. NRCS only has 25 service providers who are knowledgeable about organic.
Javier: Can you elaborate on which ways we need to be prepared?
Mark: There will be a change in market due to transition, will they be able to succeed and how will it affect those already in the market? We’ve had waves of organic transition that did not succeed; for example in the80s all the land that came out of the conservation reserve. Multiple risks that have to be thought about and adapted to.
Mindee: How can NRCS inform our strategy for success?
Mark: Most of NRCS is unfamiliar and unsympathetic to organic. That needs to improve.
Allison: Do you have thoughts about standardization of forms? What would make is easier for NRCS to meet see that organic meets the requirements of conservation programs?
Mark: There needs to be cohesion between OSP and conservation documents. Needs to be more seamless. More complete embrace of NRCS conservation program system by organic community is going to be necessary for this to succeed.
Nate: So a universal OSP but one that’s integrated across agencies is what you want?
Adam Warthesen – CROPP Cooperative | Organic Valley (CACS; PDS; General Comment)
Gov’t and industry affairs. Crop acres on certifications and animal care rulemaking. Livestock-centered co-op. The NOSB has maintained a long standing position that the NOP needs to clarify the livestock standards. Next week the NOSB should pass a resolution that intending to pass and finalize the OLPS is necessary. Acres by crop listed on certificates: we agree with MOSA. We have some concerns about listing things on certificates due to privacy concerns. Intention is good, but on USDA searchable database: concern about who mines that data. We have SOE forthcoming and that will inform fraud at aggregator level. Why wouldn’t you put number of livestock animals on a certificate if not crops? Saying how many acres and cows you have takes trust.
Amy: Saw your fraud prevention plan in your comments. Identify commodity markets as high risk. You say you collect information. You already use this information for fraud internally so why wouldn’t it help others?
Adam: Where we feel there is significant risk we do demand transaction certificates.
Rick: I’ve been reporting acreage forever. Now there is high density avocado tree planting compared to what is usual. Higher density they might look like they have higher yield.
Adam: In grain, we do have farms that store grain for a long period of time which can look like an inflation in yield. So having an acre on certificate wouldn’t translate to catching fraud.
Kyla: Expand on the privacy and confidential business information concerns?
Adam: In areas where land values and land rents are high, it might allow land owners to pinch that farmer. And it gives grain buyer more information than they would have otherwise and it might dictate their pricing with that farmer. Also concerns about activist getting ahold of the information.
Amy: In support of this information on an aggregated space?
Nate: Yes because you can’t get the farmers individual name.
Nate: What is the balance between individual privatization especially in a voluntary label, and organic integrity?
Adam: SOE will give us more, we have risk assessments done and we could use better guidance there. There are other toosl that could be enhanced. Transaction certificates should be more-pften used especially in instances we have worries or concerns. I don’t know how you would catch the Randy Constants?
Jo Ann Baumgartner – Wild Farm Alliance (General Comment)
Jenny Tucker said that the community thinks that the native ecosystems recommendation is very important. We’d like to see significant support to organic community, but we did se that: it was the 3rd most referenced NOSB recommendation. The organic community cares about this issue; moral responsibility to the natural world. Their customers don’t want to pay extra for products ringing ecosystems. We are losing as the biodiversity crisis depends. The NOP can capture the NOSBs intent if not exact requirement. The NOP should move the land requirements of the recommendation forward. We have suggestions for new language if the 10-year waiting period is a concern.
Logan: With the money now towards transition there may be even higher risk of that land being transitioned. There is a misconception that it’s easy to go in behind trees to farm. The breakdown of roots takes awhile, it’s quite expensive.
Javier: By increasing the amount of organic farming in the near future, do you think different ways of farming like controlled environment farming should be organic? Will it limit farmers who can’t access these ecosystems?
Jo Ann: The recommendation was to protect all kinds of ecosystems, native prairies is super easy to convert that. It would be great to educate the organic community. Vertically integrated organic hydroponic: seems a stretch that that can be organic. We have worked for years that biodiversity conservation is part of the rule. NOP agrees, published their biodiversity guidance. The hydroponic folks cold have some flowers or something that support pollinators for example. In any situation growers can encourage biodiversity; you know they get benefits from it. We need the bigger natures – if the organic community destroys the native ecosystems it does not make sense. Especially when the NOSB has already spoken.
Nate: What is the data on how much land has been converted? Hesitate to correlate organic with deforestation when we have no data on it. I would like data if you have it. Real concern with businesses saying organic isn’t a good bet for sustainably because WFA is saying it leads to deforestation.
Jo Ann: The USDA was at one point interested in doing a survey. The NOSB should request that from the USDA. Not just in the US. I know of organic certifiers who have seen native ecosystems taken out. The USDA is better equipped to get that information and data than small non-profits, they survey farms periodically.
Paul Muller – Farmer, Full Belly Farm (CACS; General Comment)
Concerns that we are losing and seeding ground to the notion of regenerative agriculture. In part because the USDA does not take organic seriously. Mis-step made when hydroponics was allowed. There is a confusion: you can’t provide ecosystem services in container systems you are just focused on water efficiencies. There is huge damage done when we water down systems and call them organic. It needs to be whole system organic thinking. What happens when certifiers think it’s their job to enforce the organic rule and they say organic is now allowed. I want the freedom to choose a certifier who does not certify hydroponics. This issue will come back, it threatens the credibility of all organic.
Dilip: How many organic hydroponics growers have been certified?
Paul: I don’t have specific numbers. Berry industry dominated by container growing. Soil dynamics is very difficult to replicate on nutrients alone. It is not equivalent. There are new operations coming in to organic-hydro market that are resting their credibility on the work soil-based farmers have worked hard to achieve.
Andy Huston – Farmer and business Owner (Crops)
2500 acre corn and soybeans, 6th generation on same far. We have a huge issue with Asian carp, started a company called “captain carp” – we are processing it into a liquid fish product. The fish are recapturing nitrogen from algae that feed off nitrates that come off our fields. Very efficient product. We are capturing humic acid when we are reclaiming the fish. Huge vegetable growth and foliar fertilizer. Great economic benefit and great organic fertilizer.
Rick: How did you settle on potassium hydroxide to liquefy the fish? Concern and comments about potassium hydroxide.
Andy: It came out of COVID; before we were using the fish in other ways. The machine we use was originally designed for mad cow and we put the carp in and use the same process to liquefy and render. The product we use is the consistency of milk. I am not aware of other products you can use apart from the potassium hydroxide. My understanding this is the same process they use with seaweed to turn that into fertilizer so that’s what we were going off of.
Kyla: Liquid fish products are already on the NL, with an annotation. Is one of those substances to adjust pH possible to use?
Andy: We have applied for a patent for this process. My understanding is this is just pure phosphate that we use to dissolve the fish. My scientific partner would be best to answer the question.
Linley Dixon – Real Organic Project (Crops; Livestock)
Applaud the discussion document on organic being climate smart. The USDA granted 2.8 billion dollars to climate smart agriculture while failing to reference organic. Millions went to the chemical companies; all partnered with industrial food companies. The biggest emitters are getting the money; the same companies lobbying to undermine organic since the begging. Mitigating climate change we can’t trust chemical companies; we can’t lie about organic. Certified organic poultry is nowhere near climate smart and OLPS is nowhere near fixing the problem. No wonder our butts are getting kicked by “regenerative” labels. We have to define maximal vegetation or we will institutionalize factory farming. Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. Hydroponic is not climate smart; you have to bring in all these inputs be good for the climate?
Mollie Morrissette – consumer advocate, regulatory advisor, & Mmbr American Assoc. of Feed Control Officials (General Comment)
AAFCA, and consumer advisor for safe pet food. USDA certified organic: represent the epitomy of superb pet food. There are confusing and conflicting interpretation behind certified pet food. There are no reliable standards. The USDa is using private standards to meet the demand for pet food. Some certifiers use human food grade standards, some use livestock regulations, and others certify under a combination of human and livestock rules. None of the ACAs I spoke with were aware of the human grade pet food rule was or that it even existed. Once the human edible ingredients enter a pet food plant they can no longer be a human food ingredient or additive. How that food is regulated immediately changes. This distinction is critical. Pet food cannot make the human grade claim unless it’s made at a human grade plant.
Colehour Bondera – Kanalani Ohana Farm (General Comment)
Healthiest decisions are based on a strong foundation. The PDS committee provides clarification for NOSB policies in collaboration with the NOP, including updating the PPM. The PDS does not seem to be engaged in necessary work’ we should see a report from them each NOSB meeting. There should be an alternative meeting policy for disruptions like the pandemic. Live testimony is needed, and a hybrid structure is fine. Minority views should be shown when a subcommittee isn’t in unanimous agreement.
Zea Sonnabend – Fruitilicious Farm (Crops)
Retired from CCOF, on NOSB previously. Crops sunset: glad you haven’t decided to take anything off the NL. I wrote a petition for CO2 for storage of grain and there is a mistake in the response to that petition, CO2 does come from non-synthetic sources sometimes. There are mines. The CO2 out of ethanol plants has gone through so many changes. You can’t source a specifically non-synthetic kind of CO2, even though there are mines. Having NOSB technical support: it’s important, however the technical support has to people who have some concept of organic. And within the USDA that’s not happening. You should hire someone from outside the current USDA, and they should have some organic experience.
Javier: DO you think the lack of technical support prevents the NOSB from being more diverse?
Zea: Yes, absolutely. Small growers can’t apply because you have to take a lot of time off the farm. So farmer seats will only be covered by large farms.
Rick: Conflicts of interest come up: when someone helps an NOSB member that might be paid by someone that may also be paid by someone with petitioner or others up before the bed.
Zea: Just using a material is not a conflict, there are plenty of people out there. People like inspectors who are independent and have that experience in organic and have research skills. I just don’t want the technical support coming from the USDA, because it would be very weak. Many NOSB members have colleagues or friends that are putting things before the NOSB. Just ask for disclosure of the information.
Derek Rovey – Rovey Specialty Grain / Rovey Seed Co CACS
Proposal to include acres: think it’s a great idea. Some certifiers are already requiring that information. From an audit standpoint we have been getting some confusion why some have that info and some do not. Standardization would help.
Kyla: As the end-user, what’s to prevent me from contacting with more than one person for my number of acres.
Derek: So If the bushes coming into me look okay, but you are selling to someone else. Multiple buyers for that hundred acres. From the info we would have we would not know or catch that.
Nate: Typically inspectors work in regions and do cluster of inspections. When they look at different inspections that’s where the red flag would arise.
Derek: Yes, but I don’t know how auditors would look at all of that.
Kim: What do you do with the acres information today?
Derek: Not a lot, we back check to see if things make sense right now. But since it’s not standard we don’t check it that much. If it was standardized we would check it. Litmus test, as-needed.
Esteve Giraud – ASU Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems (CACS; General Comment)
Assistant research professor. Support NOSB’s remarks on climate smart agriculture, and that organic should automatically qualify. The NRDC will release a report soon, where we make climate health and economy case for expanding organic agriculture. Includes a whole chapter citing scientific research on the topic. Most synthetic pesticides harm the climate because the affect carbon cycle and carbon traps in the soil. Soil microbiome activity decreases relative to amount of pesticides applied to the soil. We need lifecycle analysis on the climate impacts of all pesticides, including in waterways. Impacts will be different in warming waters.
Nate: Suggestions on how the organic community can better get the word out to consumers about the lack of pesticides?
Esteve: The effect of pesticides on soil is high, and fertilizer effect greenhouse gases. Focus groups could be helpful to test knowledge of average consumer on the climate impacts of pesticides and fertilizers. There is more education that needs to be done.
Karla Hernandez – Soli Organic (Crops)
Supplier and organic manager. Largest indoor-organic herb production. Elemental sulfur: Soli organic support continued use as a fungicide and soil amendment. Want to support the burning of sulfur in indoor systems, because it’s hard for them to spray to reduce powdery mildew. Burning is not currently allowed due to byproducts, but when burned at certain temperatures no sulfur dioxide is related into atmosphere. Support the use of sticky traps and barriers. Support the use of ammonia fertilizers, sourced from poultry. Support IFP’s written documents.
Eve Kaplan‐Walbrecht – Garden of Eve Organic Farm, Board of Directors, Organic Farmers Association (CACS)
Livestock and poultry standards, we are mainly a vegetable farm but we raise pastured eggs. Immense costs of having poultry outside. Encourage you to require true outdoor access, want a level playing field. Would like to see implementation time of 3 years. The BBMF is something we would like to use, many farms that are not in our area that use it. And some certifiers are allowing this product in other areas but our certifier does not allow it.
Brian: What are the crops you use plastic for and that you would use BBMF for?
Eve: Mainly in spring for onions and scallions where weeds are difficult, and mid-season for hot weather crops like eggplants, tomatoes, cucumbers that need warmer soil.
Logan: you currently use standard plastic? What is left behind and does it cause problems for you? If there was an 80% material would you use it?
Eve: That is a problem, you can’t get all the plastic that you can’t remove. High cost of labor. I would have to look closely at the specific product so it depends.
Javier: Love seeing real farmers comment. Ove that you said you would use BBMF if you could.
Amy: One of the components in BBMF, PLA, can start restricting N in soil. What if that was the case with this product?
Eve: Make sense it would use some N, I wouldn’t find that prohibitive. Anything that’s biodegrading will tie up some N. We work a lot on our soil fertility and it’s not the main issue. Weed pressure is the bigger issue and labor costs.
Jefferson Dean – Timberlane Organic Farm (General Comment)
Important that bill of lading is standardized. Standardizing OSP: there is no reason to, each certifier has their own system and that’s fine. The time of the meetings: we are very busy this time of year. We should be able to have the meetings at different times, even changing it 2 weeks every time. Get the feeling people don’t want to hear from farmers. It’s very frustrating. If you move it 2 weeks back every time then everyone could have a chance. Spring and fall are the worst seasons for most farmers. There is no good reason it couldn’t be moved. August and January would be great for me.
Logan: I love hearing from farmers and everyone else does too. Timing with sunsets etc. – there is a lot in play. Hopefully we can change it to things that would help out better.
Nate: Agree there is no worse time. As a FACA board that covers the whole country there are so many considerations. The reason we use these times is sound; this is why we are a big fan of these virtual meetings so we can hear from farmers. What do you think of acres on certificates?
Jeff: Not a huge fan but think it is necessary. For the industry it’s necessary. Integrity is all we have.
Ken Dallmier – Clarkson Grain (CACS)
President. Need to retain CO2 on list as handling aid. There would be extreme product loss without it. Need the USDA to exercise the authority to recall any product out of compliance at any point in production, storage, and sales. The value of organic seal is the trust of the consumer.
Amy: The scope of the proposal is small on acres on certificates. Would you foresee any internal changes on protocols on verifying this information since you are a grain buyer?
Ken: We would look at OID to ensure there is a match to what is being grown and delivered. I would ask that database be modified. We need a single point of truth that is updated.
Angela Schriver – Schriver Organics (Misc)
Members of OFA. Support Universal bill of lading, helpful for everyone and good for fraud prevention. Do not support universal OSP; it would not streamline compatibility with NRCS. Listing of acres: I have nothing to hide. Recommend electronic organic link system.
Kristopher Klokkenga – Farmer (CACS; Oversight to deter Fraud)
In favor of acres by crop: if you are doing things honestly you don’t have anything to hide. It would reduce fraud. It would be something to expect from our industry. Minimum reporting requirements: encourage streamlining of process.
Dave Shively – Shively Organic Farm (General Comment)
Current president of OFA grain growers chapter. Surprised that many certificates don’t have acres right now, that should be the standard to deter fraud. Bill of lading: they should list every load of grain that goes out identified by seller and buyer name and address, date, lots numbers, bushels, field, bin, and what load you have, etc. Possibly scale tickets. It helps to be transparent and traceable. The timing of the NOSB meetings is a problem: January and July would be preferable. This is a really tough time for farmers. If you move it back two weeks every time pretty soon it’s fair to everyone.
Lily Hawkins – Organic Farmers Association (General Comment)
New policy director of OFA. Agree that certified organic production should automatically be considered climate smart for support through relevant USDA programs. The NOP must finalize OLPS as soon as possible. The NOP should ensure that organic farming is soil-based. Inconsistent interpretation on the guidance about how container operations can transition is going to undermine organic integrity. Soil must be recognized as the cornerstone of organic production. We’ve been seeing more issues with pesticide drift and the contamination from PFAS. Organic farmers have bravely been leading the way in pulling products; but farmers need help and compensation for lost farm and crop value due to contamination.
Amanda Brewster – OCIA international (CACS)
Acreage reporting: Our BOD is in full agreement that the increased efforts to deter fraud are the utmost concern. Agree to mandatory listing my crop type and acreage. It’s necessary to verify statements and identifying potential fraud. There are no insurmountable barriers to including this information on organic certificates and making it mandatory. Supports universal auditing documents for Minimum reporting; we already use mass balance, DMI, bill of lading, etc. that are in use by our inspectors. Having universal forms is needed for covering gaps in reporting. OCIA recommends further discussion surrounding which auditing document farms are most critical.
Nate: Does OCIA current list acres? What about privacy?
Amanda: Yes, in the product addendum so it goes along with the certificate. No concerns about privacy; we’ve had no backlash and have been doing it for about 12 years.
Gwendolyn Wyard – Organic Trade Association (CACS; Handling; General Comment)
Ion exchange: filtration tech has been allowed since the regulations were first established. It’s the most effective filtration available to remove heavy metals and other inadvertent contaminants. The recharge materials proposal: the mobile ions that are exchanged are subject to NL review. That is added to the product even though it’s in the product. The recharge materials are processing aids and so must appear on NL. The ion exchange materials/resins are the filtration apparatus, and has no technical part of any food. Does not meet the definition of a processing aid. The resins do meet FDA definition of food contact substance; does not have a technical effect on the food. The use of ion exchange should be reviewed. We support option 1, and want NOP to issue instructions on ion exchange approval to ensure consistency going forward.
Kyla: Would it help us if we had our own definition of food contact service?
Gwendolyn: It depends. On the purpose of why you want the definition and why the FDA definition is not appropriate. It’s helpful if we have the same definitions – if it works. We don’t’ recommend including food contact substances on the NL unless they are also processing aids. I like the FDA definition.
Nate: Leakage and degradation of resins; what about unintended leakage and degradation?
Gwendolyn: Garth had a good comment on leakage. It’s a food contamination event if you are actually getting to the point where things are wearing out and breaking down.
Doug Currier – OMRI (ion exchange resins)
OMRI stands behind our published policy on ion exchange. We answer the subcommittee comments in our written comments. We do not think that food contact substances should not be automatically exempt from NL. There are examples of secondary food contact substances already on the NL. We use caution in using FDA definitions. It would open the door to many materials already in use on organic to go on the NL.
Kyla: Do resins meet the definition of ingredients or processing aids? Would it help us if we had our own definition of food contact service?
Doug: We didn’t’ go that route; we looked at potential to contaminate and what is already on the NL.
Brian: Are these resin materials “pure”? Or are the ion resins mixtures of things? Red herring to include the paint on your tractor if we open the floodgates of allowing resins in?
Doug: They are a mixture of things in order to create the structure, specifically to have a charge.
Amy: Synthetic nutrient fortification – it was one of your written answers regarding humic acids. Could you touch on OMRI’s testing solutions?
Doug: The regulation does not include requirements that only the amount used to extract these humic acid materials be used. So we’ve developed a standard for testing for fortification. But only for potassium and ammonium hydroxide. We’ve seen novel extract-ants and don’t know how to approach those. The NL does not require assessment for fortification normally.
Alan Lewis – Natural Grocers (General Comment)
166 organic certificates for retail handling and packaging. A seal becoming a shield against integrity. Organic is about to undergo global scrutiny as ESG reporting (about environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts) requirements go into effect. We need to become familiar with ESG reporting; IFOAM addresses many of these reporting standards. No not let the organic seal just become a shield. Sometimes SEC requires this. Sometimes companies are requiring this reporting.
Nate: How do we get retailers to sell more organic food?
Alan: The Kroger merger will make things worse. They don’t care unless customers ask for it.