Day 1: Tuesday, April 19, 2022 (12:00 PM ‐ 5:30 PM Eastern Time ET)

NOSB Member Participants: Rick Greenwood, Jerry D’Amore, Kimberly Huseman, Mindee Jeffery, Nathan Powell-Palm, Wood Turner, Amy Bruch, Brian Caldwell, Carolyn Dimitri (delayed in joining), Logan Petrey, Kyla Smith, Liz Graznak, Allison, Johnson, Dr. Dilip Zandwani, Javier Zamora. A current list and biographies of the current NOSB members can be found here.

Michelle Arsenault (Advisory Board Specialist at USDA National Organic Program) makes some opening remarks and technical details, including that the chat is not part of the public record. Michelle calls the NOSB roll call.

Dr. Jennifer Tucker (Deputy Administrator at USDA National Organic Program) makes some opening remarks, welcoming the NOSB members (especially the 4 new Board members that started this Spring) for their 4th online meeting together.

Nate Powell-Palm is the current NOSB chair and makes some introductory marks, including the Policy and Procedure Manual (PPM) requirements for public comment (note he adds the “refraining from personal attacks language” into the PPM requirements).

Steve Ela, Ela Family Farms, Crops (CS)
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Recycling of nutrients. OFPA does not require recycling and actually limits certain types (biosolids, colored paper).

Simple nutrients vs. complex nutrients analogy to eating whole foods.

Soil biome is changed by the type of fertilizer applied – don’t need to feed it sugar.

Not necessary to add a unique standard at this time – can the NOSB explore improvements to the communication mechanisms when a new non-syn substance is identified or be more proactive in reviewing these materials?

This is proactive.

If a petition is not submitted on a non-syn substance the NOSB has no authority.

Gives industry and developers knowledge of where boundaries are so that they know what potential investments might yield.

Overburdens farmers and certifiers, they don’t have the tools to understand this.

If you don’t use any materials that are less than 3:1 C:N this doesn’t apply to you and no extra work is needed. Similar to sodium nitrate which has already been figured out.

Guidance or notice to certifiers can lay out procedures, ACA can develop consistent protocols, MRO’s can place C:N ratios on their fertilizer products.

What does your concept of an organic system look like? There will continue to be more pressure on “organic” to be something else. We have to help define where limits are to prevent future conflicts.

Logan Petrey: You mentioned highly soluble nutrients – we are talking about nitrogen here – do you think that this role should expand to all nutrients and not just nitrogen? Calcium…?

Ela: The “nutrients” designation is a habit. I’m not going down that path. We already do with calcium chloride. This motion is about highly soluble nitrogen. Calcium chloride is a bit of a different story.

Amy Bruch: Appreciate your written and oral comments. Important topic. Solubility of nitrogen versus the

Ela: The ratio is right at the breakpoint of proteins and ammino acids. The basis of organic ag has always been to feed the soil. The soil biota needs to break that down to make nitrogen available. The 3:1 really is a break – where we feed the soil more complex nutrients. When we go below that, such as for nitrate and ammonia, we are really into the substitution mode. We are not about input substitutions. The analogy for humans is that if we take whole foods that help our gut flora, that is better than just eating a vitamin. The 20% allowance allows some use of these things, just like you might take a vitamin when you’re short on something, and it also helps put some guardrails on some of these things. Allows NOSB time to review these things before they are widely used. It is about eating well and substituting well, and really important for the future of organic.

Terry Shistar, Beyond Pesticides, All/Misc
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My name is Terry Shistar, and I’m on the Board of Directors of Beyond Pesticides. Here are highlights of our comprehensive written comments.

Please deny the petition for CPC—a toxic quaternary ammonium compound that is being petitioned for use on raw organic poultry. Quats include several toxic sanitizers and disinfectants as well as the highly toxic herbicides paraquat and diquat. CPC residues have been discovered on treated surfaces and poultry skin, exposing workers and consumers to unlabeled pesticide residues. It is unnecessary in organic production.

Please pass the proposal limiting the use of highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers to protect organic integrity consistent with the principle of “feeding the soil, not the plant.”

Awareness is growing about the environmental and health impacts of plastic—and the microplastic particles to which it degrades. The NOSB should initiate action to eliminate all uses of plastic in organic production and handling, including packaging. Biodegradable Biobased (Bioplastic) Mulch Film should not be relisted.

Many NOSB recommendations have not been addressed by NOP. It is your role to guide NOP and ensure that the “conventional” industrial agriculture clients of USDA do not control the organic program.

Now NOP has come to the organic community with a request for input concerning the priorities to be assigned to recommendations it has failed to complete. The organic community has spoken on these issues, but NOP has not done its job. It is improper for NOP to now pit segments of the organic community against one another. NOP must do its job, with no excuses. It must ensure that OMB, for example, understands the structure of the organic program, including why the National List changes as materials sunset. It must give higher priority to completing NOSB recommendations. It is NOP’s responsibility to just get it done.

Appendix A of our Big Picture comments contains our analysis of outstanding NOSB recommendations. In classifying its progress, NOP creates some categories for which it has decided to ignore the recommendations (closed) or indefinitely delay implementation (on hold). For example:

“On hold” includes: prohibition of aeroponic, clarifying “emergency” use of synthetic parasiticides, all recommendations concerning excluded methods, the procedure for examining ancillary substances, and ammonia extracts.

“Closed” includes: containers, eliminating the incentive to convert native ecosystems to organic crop production, and sodium nitrate.

In addition, other recommendations, like the 2010 recommendation on greenhouse production, have been ignored. Please see Jim Riddle’s comments.

Jay Feldman, Beyond Pesticides, General Comment
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I’m Jay Feldman with Beyond Pesticides and former NOSB member. Welcome to new and hi to returning board members. Thank you for your service Please see our extensive written comments on this meeting’s agenda.

Today, I’d like to explain our perspective on the NOSB’s role, and why we have been engaged with organic for over 40 years.

Leadership. This is why the NOSB exists –a stakeholder board empowered by Congress to lead USDA on organic transition and standard setting; to lead the transition away from chemical-intensive agriculture.

Your leadership is critically important in the midst of existential public health threats from toxic chemical-induced diseases, biodiversity collapse, and the climate emergency.

The need for structural changes or systemic change was, in effect, recognized on the first day of the Biden Administration with Executive Memorandum on Modernizing Regulatory Review. It recognizes the need for a holistic approach to government action, requiring agencies “to ensure that regulatory initiatives. . . promote public health and safety, economic growth, social welfare, racial justice, environmental stewardship, human dignity, equity, and the interests of future generations.”

In eliminating fossil fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers we achieve this –stop hazardous exposure to toxics with multigenerational adverse effects, improve the health and welfare of communities, protect people of color in protecting farmworkers where pesticides are used and fenceline communities where toxic pesticides are produced; protect and enhance ecosystems and utilize ecosystem services; respect life as opposed to setting allowing levels of harm with inequitable consequences.

Every Technical Review that informs your actions must include a cradle to grave analysis for you to do this and fulfil your statutory mandate in determining allowable materials on the National List.

Last week, the Deputy Administrator for USDA’s NOP said that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is a roadblock to your decisions. The failure of USDA to follow-through on your recommendations is a national scandal and tragedy, and, in our view, fails to comply with the law. As the NOSB, we urge you to call out, reject, and stand up to the undermining of your work and false arguments of economic dislocation. It harms consumer and farmer confidence in the organic label and the growth of the organic sector. With this, USDA only helps to elevate the chemical industry, industrialized agriculture, factory farms, abusive working conditions, and deadly diseases –and cripples the foundational organic principle of continuous improvement.

Remember the law’s no additions clause that prohibits the Secretary, without your recommendation, from allowing National List substances not recommended by the Board.

Embrace your role in providing advice to the Secretary. Bring your voice to this Forum and the NOSB agenda setting. Use the power of Board resolutions.

And keep pushing back against an agency that still envisions organic as producing niche specialty crops rather than the original vision in the statute –the cutting edge for the future of agriculture and all land management, ensuring a sustainable future.

Brian: 1st: Whether BP has contamination issues like PFAS and BPA in packaging on their agenda for continued suggestions? 2nd: When an economic analysis is done on the effects of practices/products, wonder if BP has ways to access the “loss of confidence” in the entire label?

Jay: The issue of “legacy chemicals” is top of mind in formulation of the legislation, and struggled with how to incorporate “background levels” into allowable products. There are indicators of threshold levels of harm for PFAS for example; struggling with that for DDT/DDE for generations now. We have to figure out what the threshold for elevated harm is for these background levels, with EPA/FDA levels as a basis. We can’t put organic at an economic disadvantage when we are living in a soup of toxic mistakes. We have to look at drift, runoff, etc. And stop allowing that to impose harm on organic production and organic growers. NOSB can be helpful in addressing chemical trespass. We have to be more engaged in this as a community and stopping non-target drift in all forms. Struggles in state of Maine. Economics of all of this: 3 pillars of regulation: issues of adverse effects, compatibility, and essentiality. The NOSB has to look carefully at what is needed and what is not needed – but during that evaluation you can’t allow that to trump other issues of harm and compatibility with organic systems. Always have to think comprehensively with economics AND other factors under review.

Abby Youngblood, National Organic Coalition, General Comment
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Good afternoon. I’m Abby Youngblood, executive director at the National Organic Coalition. I’d like to start by discussing two critically important issues that the NOSB is considering at this meeting.

First, NOC strongly supports the NOSB proposal to limit fertilizers with C:N ratios of 3:1 or less. We think passing this proposal is fundamental to protecting the integrity of the organic program and advancing organic as a climate-smart system of agriculture.

As time goes by, more soluble crop fertilizers that do nothing to feed the soil are hitting the market. These materials allow farmers to side-step the soil health requirements in the organic regulations. The NOSB must act now to regulate these highly concentrated and available sources of nitrogen as a group— the development of these fertilizers is taking place at a fast and furious pace, and it may become difficult to spot each of these new fertilizers. This proposal lays out a clear and enforceable plan to restrict the widespread reliance on highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers in organic production.

The second critical issue the NOSB is voting on this spring is excluded methods. NOC strongly supports the NOSB recommendation for a formal guidance document from the NOP. We agree with the addition of cell fusion and protoplast fusion as outlined, with one small suggestion regarding the definition.

On another topic, I want to urge NOSB members to pay close attention to the annual peer review evaluations at the NOP. This is the mechanism for oversight over the NOP’s accreditation process and the NOSB should take a more active role in evaluating the results of these reports and flagging issues of concern. At the NOP’s request, for this meeting, the NOSB reviewed a Risk Mitigation Table related to real and perceived conflicts of interest. While the information in this table is important, it is the tip of the iceberg when addressing conflicts of interest to mitigate risk within the certification process. We encourage the NOP and NOSB to continue to address risk mitigation in a more systemic way.

NOC also submitted comments this spring to the National Organic Program because we are deeply concerned about USDA’s failure to implement dozens of critically important NOSB recommendations over the past two decades. The process is fundamentally broken, and significant reforms are urgently needed. In our comments we describe 12 recommendations to bring greater accountability and transparency to the NOP’s process for implementing NOSB recommendations. We urge the NOSB to use your platform to communicate directly with the Secretary and USDA officials about the need to clear the NOSB backlog and make reforms to the process going forward.

Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

Alice Runde, National Organic Coalition, General Comment
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Good afternoon, my name is Alice Runde. I am the coalition manager for the National Organic Coalition.

My comments today pertain to racial equity, technical support, and research priorities.

Racial equity

There is increasing amount of evidence regarding the persistent structural racism in our agricultural system, including organic, which has excluded most Black, Indigenous, and other farmers of color from farm ownership and participation in organic certification.

To make sure this topic receives the time and attention it deserves, we ask the NOSB to establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Subcommittee to lead this work on the part of the Board. The subcommittee’s future recommendations could include changes that would make the certification process more accessible to producers of color, make organic food more affordable and available, and ensure that organic farming pays living wages for farm workers and farmers.

Recent research shows that the cost of organic certification is a challenge for organic producers, and even more so for BIPOC farmers. The NOSB should strongly advocate for a well-functioning, well-funded, and well-publicized organic certification cost share program.

We encourage the NOSB to ask the NOP to establish a structure and processes that not only invites, but also truly supports, Black, Indigenous, and other stakeholders of color to join the NOSB and be able to fully partake in NOSB activities. This support could include cultural sensitivity or equity training for NOSB members, but also appropriate support.

On Technical support:

NOC appreciates the Board’s work on this important topic. Providing support to NOSB members would broaden the pool of potential NOSB members, alleviating some of the barriers to participation. It would make a very challenging job more manageable. We want the Board to be appropriately representative of the organic community.

It is important to fit the assistance to the needs of individual NOSB members and to ensure the autonomy of the member’s voice. That autonomy is threatened if assistants are hired by USDA.

The NOSB members should be able to choose who they would like for assistance.

The NOSB should also regard the public at large as part of its “support team” through use of the open docket. We believe that there is value to the open docket, and that with additional assistance, NOSB members could make use of this tool.

On Research priorities

NOC thanks the Materials Subcommittee for its work in identifying research priorities.

While there are particular challenges to conducting both participatory research and on-farm research in various forms, NOC notes the importance of researchers partnering with farmers to engage in the examination of organic systems as they relate to organic as a climate change solution. There is so much more to “climate smart agriculture” than carbon sequestration.

We encourage the board to add the following topics to the research list: pasture research, conservation tillage systems, PFAS, alternatives to BPA, GE and organic crop coexistence, and barriers to certification for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and other underserved farming communities. All research should be approached through an equity lens: from the research designs to result interpretation.

Jerry: Shout-out to Alice and their group on their work they did on the NOSB technical support – it was well thought out and supportive, thank you.

Christie Badger, National Organic Coalition, General Comment
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Good afternoon. I’m Christie Badger, and I’m a consultant with the National Organic Coalition. Thank you for your time and service on the Board.

Oversight improvement to deter fraud
On the inclusion of crop acreage on organic certificates, we are supportive, but suggest a sound and sensible approach as outlined in our written comments.

There should be some consideration for certifiers working with producers growing on small acreage–often reporting commodities grown by 100-foot rows. It would seem both sound and sensible to allow this data to be captured as “mixed vegetables” of “2.5 total acres.”

The number of animals in livestock operations should also be listed on certificates, allowing for the ratio of animals to acres of pasture to be considered.

We recognize that the number listed would be a snapshot rather than a full picture, as flock and herd number are in constant flux.

Information on the number of animals and stage of life would also aid in providing information on where the national organic dairy herd is at by way of growth and knowledge of replacements animals available.

Annotation suggestions: We encourage the NOSB to include an ongoing Work Agenda item regarding annotation changes to be considered outside of the sunset review process.

In order to do this, there is a need for a guidance on annotations—a reference on how they should be written to allow for consistency and clarity.

This work would address one of the most prevalent issues we deal with today regarding certification—inconsistencies among certifiers—by providing better clarity for interpretation and allowance for use.

Carbon dioxide proposal: Send it back to subcommittee.

The petition involves 2 different uses—as an acidifying agent in irrigation water in which the pH is high, and as “soil or plant amendments.” At the Fall 2021 meeting, this proposal was sent back to subcommittee to address the second issue. Unfortunately, the Spring 2022 proposal includes no discussion regarding CO2 as a plant growth enhancer, yet again.

To be clear, the petition for carbon dioxide to be added to §205.601 involves two different uses—as an acidifying agent in irrigation water in which the pH is high, and as “soil or plant amendments.” The submitted documents concern use of CO2 as a plant growth enhancer, whereas the subcommittee’s published materials refer almost exclusively to the use as a pH adjuster in irrigation water, while not specifically addressing the use as a plant growth enhancer. At the Fall 2021 meeting, the proposal was sent back to subcommittee to address this issue.

Unfortunately, there has been no discussion added to the proposal regarding CO2 as a plant growth enhancer yet again. The only change that has been made to the proposal is the addition of a motion to add carbon dioxide at 205.601(j) as a plant or soil amendment. There has been no discussion regarding this motion. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC): We support the recommendation of the Handling Subcommittee—the petition should be rejected.

This petition does serve to point out an important issue that needs to be addressed. “Inerts” within the Handling scope are referred to as “ancillary substances.” While the NOSB made a recommendation regarding how to handle such substances in Spring 2016, the NOP has failed to act on this recommendation. Currently, the NOSB has no criteria to act on this petition, and therefore the petition cannot move forward.

Phosphoric acid annotation change: Phosphoric acid poses health and environmental hazards, is not necessary, and is incompatible with organic practices. The additional use should be denied.

Tall oil petition: The petition is for the use of distilled tall oil as a so-called “inert” ingredient in organic crop and livestock production. Currently, the NOP has failed to act on NOSB recommendations that would provide a framework for addressing “inerts.” Therefore, the NOSB has no criteria to act on this petition, and the petition cannot move forward.

Thank you for consideration of these comments.

Amy: Thank you for all of NOC’s comments. Consistency and clarity –agree that this is important. The HSN is cleat. IN the annotation piece – the living document on annotation that need to be addressed. Is it possible to work through a prioritization list on that?

Christie: If that is something that the NOSB would find helpful we can certainly do that. We thought areas of interest on the NOSB might guide that annotation process. Every time NOC reviews sunset materials we often suggest that annotation updates or changes would be helpful, but that is often outside the Sunset process.

Russ Hauser, Project TENDR (Targeting Environmental Neuro-Development Risks), The Arc of the US, Handling (HS)

Prof at Harvard Med School – concerned with toxic chemicals that can harm children’s brain development. Phthalates. Several of us published an article identifying phthalates that can do lasting harm to children’s brains. In the last 2 years since we have reviewed the evidence, there has been more than 200 studies on this, as well. Phthalates have long-known to damage reproductive tracts of boys. Black and Latino women have higher risk. Diet remains a primary source of exposure. Leaching into food from packaging, gloves, conveyor belts, etc. Leach into organic foods as much as nonorganic. Annie’s – mac & cheese – processing equipment and packaging materials. Should not be allowed in these materials. Consumers expect organic food to be free from toxic materials. There is rapidly accumulating evidence that phthalates can do lasting harm to children’s brains. We request the NOSB to add this to their work agenda.

Amy Bruch: You mentioned the importance of food packaging – do we need to cast a wider net and look at some of the nonfood products in organic, as well. I believe that the $62M organic industry includes food and nonfood items – shampoos.

Russ: Phthalates are found in many different products, and these are another source of exposure. For some of the phthalates food is a primary exposure method. Vinyl phthalates in particular. Phthalates are in 1,000s of different products, but we especially know that DHP is in food and a primary source of exposure.

Javier: As a farmer, we rely heavily on scientists to tell us about these things. You said several things about how minority communities are impacted by these leaching chemicals in these foods. In my head, I was thinking of when you get a bottle of water and you keep is in the sun out in the sun and you drink later out of it and it tastes different – I think there must be some sort of leaching there. I wanted to hear more about how lower income and communities of color are impacted more.

Russ: A lot of this data comes from the NHANES that is a survey that the CDC does where they measure concentrations of heavy metals in several 1000 US citizens every year. The sources of these are probably multi-fold – food and food packaging, other personal care products, other pollution sources, as well. NHANES data clearly shows differences for these communities, especially for the phthalates.

Rick: Follow up on what Javier brought up. Have there been some real epidemiological studies on phthalates and racial equity? I know of the NHANES, but curious if there are studies that show where people are getting them – food habits, where individuals live…?

Russ: There are studies that have looked at explanations for the differences. There is work that Amy Zota has done – she has focused a lot on racial differences. 3 things really explain it: foods, personal care products and where they live/communities if they are close to industrial sites for pollution. There are studies in peer review literature that have focused on these sources.

Rick: Focusing more closely on phthalates in pollution, is that an air quality issue, water issue…?

Russ: Phthalates, primary routes and sources of exposure are more from products that we come into contact with, and less so than air and water, as the contribution to human exposure is considered low from air and water. I would classify them more as exposure from consumer products and foods. I first got into this research in early 2000 working with some scientists at the CDC, and they kept having phthalates as a contaminant in the water in the lab, which led to a lot of the research on this, because they are so ubiquitous in our environment and in people.

Brian: Thanks for bringing up this issue. I have always wondered what it was the rates are that you get from water – we can taste them pretty clearly.

Russ: Probably more than you want to know. I’m a physician that got into research looking at human health effects. A lot will depend on the type of plastic that the water is in in terms of what chemicals may leach out from the plastic in terms of water or the beverage that you are drinking. If you’re referring to the typical bottles that you buy in grocery stores, those are made of other types of plastics, not phthalates. It contains both antioxidants and antimony, which is a metal. There have been studies that have been done – worked with a group in Cypress, where they have hot summers and solar amounts – and we were able to measure in these plastic bottles several chemicals, including BPA. If you look on the bottom of the bottle you will see PBT, and that’s not the phthalate that I’m talking about when I’m referring to harm to children’s brains, but there are many other chemicals in those bottles that leach. It becomes very complex very quickly.

Amalie Lipstreu, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, General Comment
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Good afternoon members of the National Organic Standards Board. I am AmaIie Lipstreu, Policy Director at the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Thank you for taking leadership on the role of organic agriculture in addressing climate change and improving food system resilience. It is heartening that increasingly, among the scientists, organizations and conservation professionals I have the privilege of working with, they increasingly speak of the need to use systems thinking in addressing the problem of climate change. Despite the growing prevalence of the term regenerative agriculture, it offers no uniform standards, no governing body and no oversight. Organic agriculture is the only system of agriculture offering the synergistic suite of practices that make this voluntary and holistic system a key solution for the climate crisis.

Unfortunately, the US Department of Agriculture is reticent to say anything that might confer the benefits of organic systems. Your letter to the Secretary was both well-timed and sorely needed. Unfortunately, the response from the Director is to add this item to your work agenda along with a number of heady questions to answer. As stated in OEFFA’s written comments, this could be the sole item on the board’s agenda for the next number of years and still leave room for more discussion and research.

We are happy to see you take on this subject and, at the same time, push back on USDA leadership. This is the work of the department as a whole and should not rest on the shoulders of a part-time volunteer board. Please know that we will do everything we can to ensure you have access to the farmers, researchers and resources to do this work and also encourage you to continue asking the USDA to commit staff and resources to this effort and, importantly, break the code of silence around the numerous co-benefits of organic agriculture.

Also, as we promote the role of organic agriculture is providing solutions to the climate crisis, we caution that hydroponic systems are highly dependent on and highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers, and therefore are not a systems approach supportive of climate change solutions.

Finally, we support the proposal from the board to limit highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers with carbon to nitrogen ratio of 3 to 1 or less, including those individual components of a blended fertilizer formulation to a cumulative total of 20% or less. Our certification colleagues have reviewed the language and feel comfortable with monitoring and enforcing these provisions.

Organic agriculture is a systems approach which is intended to feed the soil, not the crop. OEFFA appreciates the board’s thorough work on this topic and supports the addition of this motion to §205.105.

Julia Barton, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, General Comment
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Hello, my name is Julia Barton with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. Welcome new board members, and thank you to all board members for your service.

I’d like to highlight a few topics from our written comments today.

First, HYDROPONICS AND CONTAINER SYSTEMS: OEFFA is a part of a 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. 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 these operations until we can utilize our existing NOSB and rulemaking process to move forward with greater consistency.

TIMING AND FORMAT OF MEETINGS We need more farmer participation in the NOSB process. To this end, OEFFA’s Grain Growers have continually requested an alternative to the current meeting schedule. Most recently, they suggested moving the schedule back two weeks each meeting.  This would mean the meeting would rotate throughout the year, equally benefitting and inconveniencing various stakeholders over time.  We believe farmer participation is also a priority of the Board. We are wondering how we can work together to ensure that the meetings are scheduled to maximize input from a variety of organic production systems across the country.

RACIAL EQUITY OEFFA appreciates the work of the current Administration to bring equity issues to the fore within USDA, and the efforts of NOC and others to bring these issues to light within the organic community. We support NOC’s racial equity comments and have the following two specific requests:

We request the board Establish a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Subcommittee within the NOSB.

We also request the board add Fairness standards to the NOSB work Agenda and work to develop them.


Organic agriculture is a systems approach which is intended to feed the soil, not the crop. OEFFA appreciates the board’s thorough work on this topic and supports the addition of this motion to §205.105. Our certification department anticipates being able to manage this restriction, much as they did with Chilean Nitrate in the past. They feel confident, that we as a community- farmers and certifiers- can work this out. You’ll be hearing from several OEFFA farmers directly on Thursday.

Thank you again for your time and your service.

Logan: Farmers on the NOSB agree with the comments. The two week prior comment – what do you mean?

Julia: One idea suggested by armer groups; it’s not fair to ask armers to multi-task and different farmers have different busy seasons so it would be best to rotate throughout the year.

Amy: Helpful to hear that the practice standard for HSN is clar; your written comments on one of the CACS written issues. Comments concerning best practices for acre-collection by crop for small acres and mixed veggies.

Julia: If it’s very small acreages we generally list it as mixed veggies on certificate. If someone has a buyer that requires those products to be listed individually we are happy to list them as well; happy to provide additional documentation in support of the grower as needed

Javier: We get good support from certifiers like yourself for seed needs; it is very difficult to feel like you are given the best you can ton support the decisions that are on the table. Working farms you work 24/7. When all these needs that the NOSB requires for research and readings it’s very difficult for a working farm to participate.

Harold Austin, Former NOSB member, organic consumer, Crops (CS); Handling (HS); General Comment
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Chair of Science Advisory Committee for Northwest Horticultural Council. Thanks NOSB members for service.

Handling – Supports relisting of nitrogen and CO2 – both used in controlled atmospheric storage to slow down respiration. Would not be able to compete with conventional apples without the use of these two materials.

Crops – Please see the 2 documents submitted that provide detailed support for several materials, all of which we currently use.

CACS – Technical support initiative – while I support the concept of providing additional assistance, I’m 100% against outsourcing to any university or nonprofit. Do not fall under the same scrutiny as the NOP. Could fall under outside influence. By building support within the NOP staff, you are building for the future. Build staff for each subcommittee. While NOSB members will eventually sunset off, hopefully the NOP staff will remain, providing a valuable resource for future NOSB members. Emily Brown-Rosen was an amazing resource for us when I served on the Board. Build for the future and realize that the decisions you are involved in making impact organic growers, handlers, and retailers.

Do not be overly prescriptive or restrictive on the materials you will be voting on.

Brian: Who is eligible to advise/give technical assistance to NOSB. Mentioned Emily Rosen and Zea Sonnabend but they would be unavailable – we wouldn’t be able to use people like them. Could the pool be expanded a little bit?

Harold: Urge caution on what that pool would look like. Building staff reprocures that can be utilized for individuals following in your footsteps. Critical of going too far outside of the scope of control of the NOP itself because there are outside influences that become a factor. There is also the use of working groups like with tree fruits when dealing with antibiotics. I don’t think the NOSB is being allowed to utilize that process as much as they should. Should talk with NOP on how to implement that valuable resource.

Rick: Agree; the ability to have NOP staff give the historical context for decisions being made is invaluable (especially for new B members).

Harold: If you wanted to expand the pool you could draw resources from, maybe the pool is made up of past NOSB members as well.

David Epstein, Northwest Horticultural Council, representing the deciduous tree fruit industry of WA, OR, and ID., Crops (CS); Handling (HS); General Comment

Call attention to our written comments. Pacific NW is a leader in organic production of apples, cherries, and pears. NHC supports relisting of sticky traps and fixed coppers. Routine biological monitoring of pest insects allows producers to know what pests are present and #s present and is the foundation of pest management. Pest management products should only be used when needed. Sticky traps are primary use in orchards. Without these tools, growers are making uninformed decisions of when to initiate a control. Use of copper is important for fire blight. Only used when fire blight models predict an upcoming fire blight event. This disease can devastate an orchard. A decision to delist would leave growers with little defense to protect their trees. We agree that these materials must be used in a manner that minimizes accumulation in soil and water and decreases negative effects.

Jaydee Hanson, Center for Food Safety, Materials (MS); General Comment
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BPA, Orthophalates and PFAS

For several meetings, CFS has urged the NOSB to push the NOP to resume its research on BPA and Orthothphalates in food contact substances. Now PFAS is being seen as having significant food safety implications. EPA is taking strong action to try to greatly eliminate PFAS from groundwater. The FDA has still not acted on a legal petition that CFS filed several years ago with a number of groups. USDA and the NOP seem to be doing nothing to exclude these “forever” chemicals from organic food. Starbucks and McDonalds have announced that they are eliminating PFAS from containers that they place food in. It is time for the National Organic Program to step up and act on BPA, Orthothphalates and PFAS.

Biobased mulch discussion fails to discuss the increasing use of nanochemicals in biobased polymers:

While CFS supports the use of genuine 100% biobased mulches, we cannot find any discussion in the papers that NOSB has reviewed of the likelihood of nanochemicals being used in these mulches.

From the very beginning of the emergence of various nanotechnologies, such technologies were considered to have a high potential for agriculture, including mulches and food packaging. Nanotechnologies have, however, failed to have the large, expected use, mainly because of uncertainties regarding safety issues, life-cycle consideration, recycling etc. which have limited legal and consumer acceptance. Regulatory and toxicity issues, migration issues, as well as environmental considerations and various nanotechnology applications for packaging have been given extensive reviews recently[1][2]

The range of nanomaterials and nanotechnologies are extremely broad and span into the fields of active and intelligent packaging in various forms such as oxygen scavengers, antimicrobial packaging, freshness indicators, interactive packaging etc., and are not considered in this context.

It should be mentioned that there is a large field of advanced hybrid organic-inorganic nanomaterials with numerous different applications including biomulches.

[1] Wyser, Y., Adams, M., Avella, M., Carlander, D., Garcia, L., Pieper, G., Rennen, M., Schuermans, J., Weiss, J. (2016) Outlook and challenges of nanotechnologies for food packaging. Packag. Technol. Sci. 29(12):615–648.10.1002/pts.2221Search in Google Scholar

[2] Din, M.I., Ghaffar, T., Najeeb, J., Hussain, Z., Khalid, R., Zahid, H. (2020) Potential perspectives of biodegradable plastics for food packaging application – review of properties and recent developments. Food Add. Contam. Part A 37(4):665–680.10.1080/19440049.2020.1718219Search in Google Scholar

Harriet Behar, organic farmer, educator and advocate- Sweet Springs Farm, General Comment
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

My name is Harriet Behar, organic farmer, environmental advocate and former NOSB member.

The NOSB spends much of its time discussing inputs for use in organic production, and many people understand organic agriculture only through the lens of what inputs are, or what are not allowed to be used on crops and as ingredients. Let us not forget that organic is a “system” of agriculture, and it is that system of cultural, biological and mechanical practices that promotes ecological balance, recycles nutrients and enhances biodiversity. It is the systems-based approach of organic that provides the numerous environmental, economic and human health benefits when compared to nonorganic. The allowance of highly soluble nitrogen without restriction, would start organic down the path of reliance on inputs rather than systems, resulting in dubious benefits and negative consequences.

As a long time organic farmer and inspector, I believe the tools for implementing the proposal as written are readily available, with much of the information already provided in the proposal. Only fertility inputs that are close to the 3 to 1 carbon ratio would need to be scrutinized during the annual certification review, and there is abundant information available to aid growers and certifiers in determining the annual nitrogen needs of just about every crop grown. I have done many inspections where I needed to review sodium nitrate and its provision for 20% of the nitrogen needs of the crop. While it can be cumbersome, it is not impossible. Many inspectors have developed spreadsheets to do the calculations, speeding up review especially when there are numerous crops. Just as manufacturers of chicken manure pellets quickly learned to supply information to their organic clients on the heat treatment used for this product to be applied on crops for harvested for human consumption without a wait time, the limited amount of fertility suppliers who would be affected by this rule, would need to supply the C to N ratio to organic operators and certifiers. In short order, these suppliers will quickly learn this organic requirement and the info will be readily available.

All inputs must be reviewed within the context of the long- and short-term effects on ecological systems and the OFPA. I would have preferred that the annotation would have limited use only in response to an out of the ordinary climatic occurrence that caused the organic system to fail, such as unusual cold, extreme wet or dry conditions. With climate change, growers are challenged and this proposal allows for a tool to deal with extreme conditions. This is the main reason I support this proposal rather than a complete ban. Please refer to my written comments on numerous other topics.

Beth Rota, Quality Certification Services, CACS
Comment pending.

Nate: Speak to what avenues/route certifiers have to flag fraud? Where is the greatest collection of fraud tips coming into certifiers? Inspectors only have that 4-hour snapshot?

Sometimes complaints; a lot comes from 5% residue testing, a good place to find fraud at farm-velel. Doing a yield analysis where producers have a large volume of any one crop. A lot of ways to look for it and much is looking for recordkeeping systems looking for inconsistencies. More cross checks (not just in response to a complaint) and a risk-based approach.

Amy: One of the important things is yield analysis – how best do you verify the yields that are communicated?

During an inspection or any time we get records from a producer to get info on how much was harvested and compare to their acreage. There is not a lot of data out there for organic yield reports, so we just use general data for yields. We don’t expect organic crop yields to be higher. Compare farm records with the data that’s available.

Value in bi-directional checks? Farm records and then looking downstream to verify?

Exactly, that’s what I was referring to with cross-checks. Want to verify that records are all being disclosed. We do that a lot in our own certification when we certify different levels of the supply chain. We need more resources from NOP to help certifiers collaborate for cross checking or the NOP could coordinate the process.

Kim: Is cross checking yields a standard operating process?

Beth: Cross checks and yield analysis are two different activities. We typically do that on farms where we are doing a mass balance at a farm level for example (to determine whether it’s a reasonable amount of production). Yes, that is standard; cross checks are not standard and we do those as part of investigations.

Javier: Breaks heart knowing how big organic is and that there isn’t data on what is more accurate for mass balance. Doesn’t the USDA provide those numbers for you, for example how much strawberries per acre are grown in organic systems? How do you find sources on what the production could or should be?

Beth: My understanding that the agricultural census has only been looking at organics for a short time. Yield data is mostly from conventional agriculture, so we have to extrapolate to what we might expect on an organic farm. It would be helpful to have more data specific to organic. We also keep our own data when we have a lot of clients that produce the same commodity (ex. Bananas). (Link in comments to NASS.)

Nate: For mass balance, wouldn’t it be helpful for inspectors to be part of data gathering for risk?

Beth: When you’re doing an inspection you would then be reporting on data from another operation. Typically, inspectors are only looking at one entity at a time, rare that you will see that farm entire sales in one transaction. Could be useful but in general we need to have more certifier exchange of information and more cross-checking.

Lee Frankel, Coalition for Sustainable Organics, Crops (CS)

Coalition for Ecological Recovery in Organics. Goals are to ensure that reasonable regulations do not impede organic production, eliminate negative impacts, support regenerative soil biology, increase equitable access to

Howards rule of return – we must recycle waste from one production cycle into the next.

Organic growers can do even more to prevent the leaching of toxins to our water and airways.

Members built their processes to minimize GHG emissions from traditional methods.

MROs, WSDA – Have confirmed our members’ processes to be nonsynthetic.

Recovering nutrient resources – intended to be used as domestic climate smart nitrogen sources – acquired from nitrogen feed stocks.

Policies recommended to the NOP should be science based. NOSB report did not thoroughly review and support scientific data. Concerned about one-size-fits-all approach that ignores site-specific conditions.

We believe that recovered nitrogen products have a place in the organic marketplace.

Amy Bruch: Rule of Returns in cycling nutrients – We heard another commenter mention a need for boundaries when the organic community is recycling, such as colored newspaper – what are your thoughts on boundaries?

Lee: In the case of products derived from animal waste that is already being used in compost in other ways, the question seems to be moving us away from the question of how we can make sure products are being used responsibly in things that have been considered organic since the beginning. I think the question of putting a limit on things… In terms of this being a product that we are already using, I do not understand why we would want to exclude it. This is not colored paper. This is a product coming from the organic livestock sector. Do we no longer want organic beef or eggs? I think we should be incorporating these back into the crop production system. I do not see this being something like printed paper.

Nate: What do we do with waste products now? There is a BIG demand for poultry litter across the board. Why would we lose eggs, beef, and milk without these novel technologies?

Lee: When there was a question on should we put some limits on what we return back to the earth, but you’re saying that growers use those products from livestock production. I’m in agreement. They should be included. I do not think we would want to exclude those products from being part of the rule of return.

Jake Evans, True Organic Products, Inc., Crops (CS)
Comment pending.

Logan: A lot of stakeholders noted that a lot of things in the TR had holes in it, but curious if that’s gong to open it up to more people saying that if TRs are not sufficient more petitions will have to be submitted or may be submitted.

Jake: The TR is a very science-based argument. Talking about motion #1 and the classification issue. It’s not an acid to stabilize for microbial growth, it’s an acid that leads to chemical change.

Logan: If the intention is different, do you think the result for adding acid for liquid fish etc. Is chemically changed?

Jake: No, just with ammonia we are finding it’s a chemicals change. Liquid fish is an approved synthetic. But that’s why a minimized TR would be good to look into that exact issue of the chemical change due to acid addition.

Patty Lovera, Organic Farmers Association, CACS; Crops (CS); General Comment
Comment pending

Nate: Would the listing like Julia mentioned fall into concerns for certifiers for you as well?

Patty: Yes. It also comes up with conservation programs like NRCS. It would be good to have an option for mixed vegetables or example; supports succession planting and we don’t’ want to discourage that.

Amy: Were specific languages mentioned that would be helpful when looking at multiple language sources?

Patty: Spanish and Mung come to mind, that’s what we hear most often. We should ask farmer groups on the end. What communities are doing the work and interested in transition – we could come up with the top needs that way.

John Foster, Wolf & Associates, General Comment

Welcome new Board members. Take the time to think about everything critically. Consider everything with an open mind. Think about what could be, not what is.

205.605 – We are big in advocating for applying commercial availability on everything on 605. We think there is opportunity for more organic inputs, but that is going to require demand. We want to favor organic over nonorganic that are on 605.

Commercial availability registry – we would like to advocate for ACAs to provide information to NOP after confirming lack of commercial availability on seeds and materials. If that data could then be made public, then producers, suppliers, manufacturers could have that data to incentivize production. Would provide options for organic crops.

Both are challenging and novel, but feel they could be met. The organic juice would be worth the squeeze.

Kyla: Wondering you had any thoughts on who might be the owner of said registry? I believe at one point in time, there was a registry and it sort of fell by the wayside because of upkeep.

John: I would love to see some of the new funding of NOP go toward it and institutionalize it. The one you talk about wasn’t the first try. Outside of an institutionalized owner of it, the same thing will likely happen. I also feel like it is appropriate because the commercial availability clause is part and parcel of the regulation and it ought to be owned by the public through governmental process.

Kate Mendenhall, Organic Farmers Association, Crops (CS)
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Thank you, NOSB members, for the opportunity to speak before you today. Welcome new members. My name is Kate Mendenhall, I am the Executive Director of the Organic Farmers Association. OFA was created to be a strong national voice and advocate for domestic certified organic farmers.

Today I will be addressing Highly Soluble Fertilizers, Human Capital, and Climate Smart Agriculture.

Crops Subcommittee: Highly Soluble Nitrogen Fertilizers
OFA strongly supports the concept of feeding the soil, not the plant. We support limiting the use of highly soluble nutrients for use in organic production because such use is incompatible with OFPA and good soil health practices. Our farmers have voted to prohibit Ammonia Extract and Sodium Nitrate.

Discussion Document: Human Capital Management: Supporting the Work of the NOSB

OFA strongly supports human capital management efforts to better support the work of the board and its members. It is vital the NOSB be fully representative of the organic community. Farmers and other members of the organic community who are self-employed, often have large out of pocket expenses to cover their time spent fulfilling NOSB responsibilities. We support the NOP hiring research assistants to support board-member-driven research needs restricted to summarizing literature reviews, technical reports and summaries of public comments. Managing conflict of interest and confidentiality commitments, and ensuring these assistants have organic knowledge is essential.

We also encourage the NOP to consider expanding the allowable expenses for board members to cover on-farm replacement labor, childcare, etc. so that the self-employed are not facing economic hardship by volunteering their expertise to the NOSB.

NOSB Memo on Climate Smart Agriculture

In response to the NOP memo on February 23rd requesting the NOSB facilitate public discussion and “explore how organic can advance in tandem with climate-smart agriculture to support our planet and our farmers,” I would like to emphasize the contradiction that allowing certified organic hydroponic production poses to this effort. The NOP asks the NOSB to “help reinforce and capture the connections between climate-smart agriculture and what many certified organic farmers are already doing.” We support this and highlight that organic soil farming sequesters carbon and hydroponic farming does not, yet all the questions NOP asks around climate smart farming and organic assume soil-based production systems.

Avoiding the issue of organic hydro is creating a huge mess in the marketplace that contradicts the value of organic. Organic hydroponic production is undefined, lacks standards, and is growing at a rapid pace. The NOSB recommendations on greenhouse production are now a decade outdated as technology in this industry has changed dramatically. The NOSB has tools to restore organic’s place as a climate-smart leader and it must use its authority to do so by addressing greenhouse production and hydroponics.

Kyla: From written comments: highly soluble N fertilizers, stated that there was concern over ability of certifiers and inspectors to monitor this even though they would support the prohibition. What can the NOSB or NOP bridge this gap between that need and concern?

Kate: Our policy committee put their effort into a broader policy; farmers have a concern about paperwork burdens. Right now, there is a lot of fertilizer angst right now because conventional farmers are using organic inputs due to the high prices. We are meeting with our policy committee on Thursday and can provide more info about why the 3:1 proposal was not supported initially. I can give more specifics later.

Mark Kastel, OrganicEye, General Comment
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My name is Mark Kastel. I’m the Executive Director of OrganicEye, a farm policy research group most commonly recognized as an organic industry watchdog.

For all of you who truly care about the integrity of the organic label, I’m here to alert you that the certification process, as it is constituted today, is more show than substance. It’s essentially ineffective busywork.

Honest farmers and businesspeople, and American taxpayers, are investing tens of millions of dollars per year in a system based on annual inspections. And that system is not catching the major scofflaws.

The annual inspections process worked when I was certified, as an agricultural producer, in the 1980s. Family-scale farmers had their hearts in the organic movement and were either direct marketers or had personal relationships with their wholesale buyers. But with over $60 billion in commerce today, that system has become a hoax.

As one of the country’s preeminent industry watchdogs, who has worked with the USDA, Justice Department, and FBI on the industry’s largest cases, I can tell you that almost none of the major fraud investigations have started with annual inspections.

Most have come from current or former employees, or competitors ratting-out the perpetrators.

We need to fundamentally reallocate certification funding to more effectively catch these offenders—as an alternative to putting honest farmers and handlers through the ringer every single year.

An alternative would be to schedule full-inspections and audits, conducted once every five years, by very experienced individuals with backgrounds in production organic agriculture and forensic accounting, supplemented by liberal unannounced inspections and testing.

Right now, neophytes, sometimes fresh out of university, many without any experience or background in production agriculture, processing, or accounting, are going toe-to-toe with experienced fraudsters—agriculturalists who are having their lunch every day.

As envisioned, this reallocation of resources should be a revenue-neutral approach, with annual inspections only when they are warranted, very comprehensive reviews once every five years punctuated with ample unannounced inspections, spot audits, and an abundance of testing.

The multimillion dollar domestic and international frauds that have become public are an embarrassment. But do any of you think we are doing anything more than capturing the tip of the iceberg? I guarantee you, and I was just working with the FBI last week, that there are a multitude of problems waiting to undermine the credibility of organics.

If organic stakeholders from the farming community, processors, marketers, or USDA officials would like to discuss these options further, I would encourage you to contact us.

Thank you very much.


This panel has discussed the endemic problem of recruiting, training, and retaining competent inspectors. This alternative approach to certification would certainly address the ongoing challenges.

The IRS doesn’t audit 100% of taxpayers each year. They should have more resources, but they apply what they have in a targeted manner. But they do manage to scare 100% of us.

Just like we should listen to first-hand accounts of the Holocaust, or Jim Crow and terrorism against African-Americans from survivors who can still convey them first-hand, I’m encouraging board members and USDA officials to hear the voices of active members of the nonprofit sector who were personally engaged in the process that culminated in asking Congress to pass the Organic Foods Production Act. There are fewer of us involved every year.

Logan: Love the idea of really specialized people. On the 5-year and unexpected audits – who do you propose pays for those audits? Difficult for small farmers to pay.

Mark: This should be revenue neutral because we concentrate those resources on doing it once. The documents that are key are not being analyzed. It’s all about “creative writing” and people who are good at paperwork can easily cheat. There is an economic disincentive for certifiers to catch problems. We are missing the big picture and it’s possible to capture it, but we are finding it after the fact – the USDA said everything was fine for years and then 75% of the Black Sea Importers lost their certification after WaPo highlighted the fraud. We have to be more proactive.

Ben Silverman, Upward Farms, Crops (CS)

Co-founder and chief technology officer – Aquaculture – in business over 9 years. Looking to build our next farm in PA. Support CO2. Experience has been that the use of current alternatives, such as use of sulfur burner, has negative implications for users and environment – sulfur dioxide – toxic if inhaled, contributes to acid rain. Additionally, sulfur pellets are highly flammable and require special handling and storage. While there are some industries that make Non synthetic CO2 – small-scale recapture systems, but nothing designed for our scale. Difficult to find a partner that would be able to provide the volume we would need in the local market. We are committed to locating nonsynthetic sources. Until such sources are available, we support this petition.

Emily Musgrave, Driscoll’s Inc., Crops (CS)

Organic regulatory manager. Thank you to the NOSB for protecting organic integrity. Comments focus on the continued allowance of: sulfur, BBMF, zinc salt, humic acid, and micronutrients. Supports continued listing of elemental sulfur, it’s a necessary input for strawberry growers for powdery mildew and soil amendment for adjusting Ph. Organic growers rely on dusting sulfur compared to wettable sulfur especially for powdery mildew. Supports the continued listing of BBMF on the NL as there are still not many ways to recycle field plastics. Would prefer to have BN. Supports relisting of zinc salt as it’s a good control for berry growers to control Botrytis. Humic acids are widely used or applied foliar products across all berry types. All micronutrients types should be listed, they are all important tools for organic growers.

Kennedy Gullatte, National Organic Coalition
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Good afternoon. I’m Kennedy Gullatte and I’m speaking today on behalf of the National Organic Coalition.

Minority Opinions in NOSB Subcommittee Decisions & Published Materials
NOC urges NOSB subcommittees to include minority opinions in their published materials. The omission of minority opinions does a disservice to the democratic process and all of the expertise that comes to this board. The minority views inform the deliberations of the whole board, reflect ranges of views of all stakeholders, and are common to FACA boards. The lack of a statement of minority opinion stifles informed decision making.

Accuracy of Representation Matters
Accuracy of representation matters. When NOSB members present a summary of a public comment received on a material, petition, or other issue, sometimes comments received on the materials are misinterpreted by the lead. The lead will state that the comments are in favor of relisting when in fact many of the comments may have come from certifiers who merely provided the number of operations that list the material on their Organic Systems Plan. This number may not be an accurate representation of the number of operations that are actually using the material. Since the number does not accurately reflect the actual use, this data cannot be properly used. We want to strive to improve accuracy going forward.

Global Organic Movement Consistency
Just as a US organic regulatory system benefits from consistency of interpretation and application, the international organic movement benefits from consistency. There are a few instances where the US system conflicts with our trade partners, organic neighbors, IFOAM interpretations and CODEX regulations. Where possible, we should bring US instances in alignment with the global organic movement.

Continuous Improvement as a Community Value
NOC values continuous improvement because we understand that organic agriculture is based on an understanding of ecology & complex systems. We do not seek silver bullets but improved ways of working with nature. Continuous improvement is visible in the innovative approaches we have seen developed in organic systems, such as pastured poultry & organic no till. It’s most visible in OFPA in the Sunset provision which provides for the periodic re-examination of materials used in organic.

Organic agriculture is no longer small, it is global. Because of this growth the USDA must be more willing to engage in rule making and progress towards organic principles. The USDA must support continuous improvement by educating the office of management and budget and others to make frequent regulatory updates as organic grows towards achieving its goal of Agroecosystems that are ecologically, socially, and economically sustainable.

Thank you for considering my comments.

Nate: You are saying that it might be misrepresentative from the number of organizations that are using an organic material based on the number of people that list it on their OSPs. Do you have a better way for us to interpret those numbers or get a better understanding of how many producers are actually using a material?

Kennedy: I will need to speak with my colleagues and get back to you with an answer.

Robert Rankin, International Food Additives Council (Assoc.), Handling (HS)

IFAC represents manufacturers and users of food ingredients. Supports relisting CO2 and sodium phosphates and pectin. These ingredients are used in alignment with organic production. CO2 is used to produce carbonated beverage products, making it essential. Sodium phosphates perform important functions in organic dairy foods such as stabilization and emulsification, citrates cannot replace them in all applications. We are not aware of new research causing harm; the majority of dietary phosphorus comes from food sources which have decreased recently. We would like to increase the use of sodium phosphates to meats and poultry. Pectin is widely used in different products, supplies of organically produced organic pectin is still too low to meet demand.

Brian: Consumer groups have registered concerns about toxic substances that can get into organic foods from packaging or contact surfaces (BPA, PFAS, phthalates, etc.). What does your organization think about dealing with entrenched problem?

Robert: Correct that this is not at the top of IFACs list, we deal with direct additives. I can try and get more information and details into that question. We do work with some packaging groups that might be able to address this question. I can follow up and take a look at some of the comments you referenced too between now and the fall meeting.

Kyla: Re: your written comments particularly with phosphoric acid annotation change; can you speak more to any knowledge you have of particular finished food products and uses that the particular functionality of this product.

Robert: We do support phosphoric acid; using it as a Ph adjuster is done more on the front end of the process and does not mean the material would have a real presence in an ingredient or food. We did not do as much work looking at supporting that as we did the sunset question. I can take a look about this again. Most interested in whether or not the expansion would result in higher levels of phosphorous in the foods?

Kyla: Yes. It seemed this would be acting more as a processing aid, but it wasn’t clear as to what types of products it would be used in.

Robert: I do not know either off the top of my head. Let me see if I can find out more and provide that for you.

Kiki Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance, Materials (MS)
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

My comments today will focus on the Materials Subcommittee’s excluded methods proposal and organic seed. OSA has been supportive of the subcommittee’s excluded methods work, which has spanned nearly 10 years now, and we have supported all of the excluded methods proposals that the board has unanimously passed to date.

We also support the current proposal on determinations for cell and protoplast fusion and we strongly support the board’s recommendation that the NOP develop a formal guidance document to include the definitions, criteria, and excluded and allowed methods tables as developed in previous proposals.

I think we can all agree that understanding and addressing plant breeding techniques that may or may not align with the excluded methods definition is critical work and that the lack of clarity risks slowing progress toward another organic integrity goal, which is to plant more organic seed on organic land.

This is an important point of context for the excluded methods conversation because regulating excluded methods is more feasible within the confines of certified organic seed production than it is within the conventional seed space, and as long as growers are mostly sourcing conventional seed that is produced outside the rules of certified organic production, it will be difficult to require transparency regarding the methods behind the seed organic growers are using.

A few weeks ago, OSA was proud to release the third update to our State of Organic Seed report. Unfortunately, our most recent data shows no meaningful improvement in organic producers using more organic seed compared to five years ago.

This data makes clear that improvement in organic seed sourcing is not happening without regulatory changes. I’ll be expanding on these findings during a presentation to the board next week, but the take home is that organic seed availability has increased tremendously since the NOP was established 20 years ago and it’s time that policy follows suit to protect this progress and ensure organic farmers plant more organic seed. We hope the NOP will reconsider its rulemaking priorities by including the timely priorities of excluded methods and an update to the organic seed regulation.

Amy Bruch: You made a good point about the guidance. We cannot do much if people are using conventional seed. Wondering if you have more information on international producers, their chains of developing organic seed? Our program is global, and I was wondering about the international front.

Kiki: We do not collect international data. I could point you to data on that. It is fair to say that there has been more progress in use of organic seeds in other countries.

Mindee: The foundations of transparency in organic supply chains as far as excluded methods really has to start with organic seed – do you agree?

Kiki: Absolutely. There are going to remain challenges with transparency because some of these methods are hard to test for – you cannot test for them. Coming together as an organic community to clearly state which methods are allowed and which are not is going to go a long way within the organic community.

Javier: Thank you for talking about seeds. As an organic producer, the limitations of sourcing organic seeds are greater. Ex.) A couple of years ago, our early girl tomato seeds, I saw the package came out of China! Do we know what % of organic seeds are coming from other countries that are not necessarily produced in the US?

Kiki: We do not have data on where all of the organic seed in the commercial marketplace is produced. Easiest way to get that data is to go to the marketplace themselves. There are a # of reasons that producers haven’t been able to source more organic seeds. We must encourage improvement from year to year and earlier communication about which varieties are needed and the quantities that they are needed in. This is very much tied to contracts with processors and buyers, as well. Too often these contracts dictate a variety be grown that is not organic, or they are supplying the seeds and they’re not organic. There is a real need for the organic community and for you as a Board to come together about this gap, as we see it, in the regulatory space.

Matthew Dawson, Aquaculture Director at Upward Farms, General Comment

Located in Brooklyn NY, set out to build the world’s largest vertical farm. Grows organic greens and also fish. Priorities: NOSB should begin looking at substances for inclusion and exclusion on the NL for aquaculture as standards are moved for. The signing of the “aqua act” means the industry is going to expand rapidly; the NOSB has an opportunity to tackle this while it is being produced. Land-based aquaculture reduces many of the problems of aquaculture – complete traceability, no impact on wild fish stock, etc. I implore the agency to be proactive to support the positive change we all need.

Adam Seitz, Quality Assurance International, Crops (CS); Handling (HS); Livestock (LS); General Comment
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Good afternoon. My name is Adam Seitz and I serve as a senior reviewer and policy specialist for Quality Assurance International, an NSF International company and a leading provider of organic certification services worldwide.

Check your local grocery and you’ll find the QAI mark well represented on its shelves.

First – Thank you NOSB and NOP for your efforts and for the opportunity to comment.

On research priorities, we were a bit surprised to see the addition of a priority focused on ancillary ingredient review. It is unclear what the intended outcome of this research priority is given there was already a unanimously supported 2016 NOSB recommendation on a review process for ancillary substances. It’s a complicated topic with various perspectives and while most of the positions on ancillary ingredient review are justified for one reason or another, ultimately the unanimously passed 2016 recommendation establishes a workable path forward for consistency if implemented.

Sunset Review: Please see our written comments detailing the use of sunset materials by QAI certified operations. It’s worth noting that every handler input up for sunset review is in use by a QAI certified operation.

Regarding attapulgite’s sunset review, QAI asks that the NOSB discuss and potentially clarify via annotation the permitted forms of attapulgite, specifically with regards to whether acid-leached, activated, or treated forms are permitted by its National List inclusion. Please see QAI’s written comments for background on this topic.

On Sodium carbonate’s sunset review, we request that the NOSB examine the prevalent manufacturing processes to ensure appropriate classification and/or annotation, as it appears sodium carbonate may be more appropriately listed at 605(b) with an annotation to only permit forms produced via the Trona process.

Phosphoric acid. QAI does not have a position on the current annotation change petition. However, while examining a potential annotation update, please consider correcting its current National List inclusion. The current annotation allows phosphoric acid for cleaning of food-contact surfaces and equipment only. The listing of phosphoric acid as an approved “cleaner” at 605(b) causes confusion regarding its permitted uses. “Cleaners” are nearly always removed from food contact surfaces via a water rinse prior to contact with organic product. Sanitizers, however, are rarely removed from food contact surfaces via a water rinse as doing so typically violates label use instructions and their purpose. There appears to be uniform acceptance, at least based on current interpretations of what is and what is not required to be on the National list that “cleaners” removed via a validated intervening event do not need to be listed, whereas sanitizers that are not removed do require inclusion on the National List. This is of course pending further discussions on the food contact substances can of worms. Depending on how the NOSB addresses the current phosphoric acid annotation change petition, it may be appropriate to either remove phosphoric acid from 605(b) entirely if only intended for use as a cleaner, or to annotate as allowed for sanitizing food contact surfaces and equipment.

Thank you for your time.

Bill Wolf Wolf & Associates, Inc. and Second Star Farm. Crops (CS); Materials (MS); General Comment
Comment pending.

Nate: Speak to how we can make organics be half not 5% of the market, what are the key moves that we can be making to help catalyze the more rapid change in the market while still supporting organic integrity.

Organic challenge is divisiveness; we are not unified about many things. Easily ignored because of the lack of unification; including the USDA not treating organic like a climate change solution. In 2002/2003 when organic first appeared the public considered it the most trusted seal, but it’s not a trusted seal any more. That hurts all of us. The fundamentals are sound and a united front is needed. We need a place to hash out differences. Acreage in the US: a huge amount of organic in the USA is still imported that we could grow here (now around 5% acreage). Creating economic incentives to increase that acreage is important, it should be incentivized.

Nate: Protecting what we built but promoting it need to go hand in hand.

Linley Dixon, Real Organic Project, Policy Development (PDS)
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Good afternoon NOSB members, NOP staff and organic stakeholders in the virtual gallery.

My name is Gwendolyn Wyard and I’m the Vice President of Regulatory & Technical Affairs for the Organic Trade Association. I’m commenting today on behalf of over 9500 organic businesses across all 50 states and our mission to protect and promote organic with a unifying voice.

My comments will address excluded methods terminology, the critical role of increasing organic seed usage and the importance of staying engaged in the rulemaking process from beginning to end.

On excluded methods, OTA is in full support of the subcommittee’s proposal, and we urge NOSB to pass it, as written, at this meeting.

In our written comments, after we state our support, we go on to talk about the importance of organic seed usage and its connection to this proposal. As Kiki Hubbard discussed earlier, organic operations are obligated to ensure non-organic seed is in fact produced without excluded methods, but this can be a challenge since its production falls outside of the organic certification and oversight system. The answer? More organic seed, as a requirement.

It is OTA’s longtime position that our best option for success, is to focus on and regulate organic seed and put our energy into the development of organic seed production and organic seed breeding. Organic seed not only helps to keep GMOs out of organic, but it is THE fundamental starting point in building a thriving and resilient climate-smart organic system.

To this end, we want to see USDA prioritize the 2018 NOSB recommendation that updates the organic regulations to REQUIRE increased organic seed usage over time. We want to thank NOP for requesting feedback from stakeholders, in a federal register notice earlier this year, on how to best prioritize upcoming standards development and for sharing its current thinking on outstanding NOSB recommendations. BECAUSE, only now, can we understand that NOP is not prioritizing the recommendation on increasing organic seed usage because they believe it is already addressed by the organic regulations. Given this information, we were able bring forth important history…and explain, that NOSB initially recommended increased organic seed usage in guidance (5029), but NOP told NOSB that the guidance exceeded the regulations and that if NOSB wanted to recommend continuous improvement, the regulations would need to be revised. Thus the 2018 recommendation. Unfortunately, the NOSB process and key information that informed that recommendation was not carried forward or maintained.

So, here is the moral of the story and call to action. Standards development that begins with NOSB does not and should not end with NOSB. When a recommendation is passed by a decisive vote, then we need to stay engaged, carry the NOSB record forward and be active in each step of the rulemaking process, AND we needed to be provided with that opportunity. We need to insist that USDA regularly update stakeholders with the status, decision criteria and current positions on NOSB recommendations and advance rulemaking in a transparent and fair process.

Nate: Despite everything we are still only 5% of the market and 1% of the land. What will I take to get to 50% of the market; how do we get that position at the table for being the climate-smart solution.

Linley: We need to be louder, have activist farmers, we need to describe organic as something more than something without inputs. We live in an organic community but only a few are certified organic because of the problems with enforcing OFPA. A lot of the next generation are not being certified.

Nate: Is there a way to do this without the circular firing squad?

Linley: I don’t think there is an organic firing squad. The industry has invented this idea, I don’t think that exists among the farmers.

Tim Cada, Organic farmer since 1994, Crops (CS)

Farmer in Nebraska, 11,00 acres half of which is rangeland. Organic fertilizer has changed in the last 25 years, a lot of companies looking for more potent N source. A lot of big companies with small organic lines only seem to care about the money. We hear about people using pesticides to burn down and it’s reported to the USDA and that’s the last you hear about it. Mark Kastel talked about industrial fraud, what about local fraud? What about surprise inspections – why not just have that in replacement of planned inspections. I’ve heard of people waiting to buy seed so there is no organic seed left. How do we catch the neighbors who are spraying? The May and October meeting times do not coincide well with our planting and harvest times.

Nate: As an organic farmer how would you describe the difference between being able to maintain a resilient farm and comparing that to conventional farms who are dealing with shocks to their system, for example in the fertilizer round.

Tim: My income has been the same as my neighbors with corn and that has made me consider dropping organic certification. Fertilizer costs are hitting the young guys hard.

Nate: Is there something missing in our industry to keep organic ongoing with producers?

Tim: Acres conference; “look at your new boss” when looking at an image of a woman and child. The thought process is changing with younger people. Young kids are seeing it’s working and the Roundup does not taste very good.

Amy: Agenda items is the verification piece – worthwhile for acres and crops to be placed on the organic cert of each producer?

Tim: OneCert used to do that and then they stopped. It’s a good way to track and check yields if you list acres. There are a lot of things to look out there and it is concerning.

Jill Smith, WODPA and Producer, CACS; Livestock (LS); Materials (MS); Policy, Development (PDS)
Comment pending.

Nate: When we look at the question of farm viability, what outside of NOSB do we have to address this question? What is the biggest thing the organic community should be looking at? The big picture…

Jill: I think we need to think about the true cost of production and being paid based on that cost of production versus just having a price dictated to us without taking the cost into consideration. I think we have heavily relied on programs for the past couple of years—which no one wants to do—but if the programs are going to be out there, we want to ensure that they have specific organic accommodations, and very few of them do. And they need to apply to smaller producers. Especially as we see conventional milk prices being at record highs. Those programs do not work the same way for us. Even with one of the latest programs that came out, we had to look at freight in moving animals. We need organic consideration. Another huge concern that I have is that “regenerative” may take over “regenerative organic,” and can we be lost in that shuffle? How does organic set itself apart so that we’re not lost in that movement?

Dave Chapman, Real Organic Project, Organic Farmers Association, Long Wind Farm, General Comment
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

I am Dave Chapman. I am a longtime organic farmer from Vermont and I am co-director of the Real Organic Project.

I am speaking today about the NOP reaction to one of the hot issues that organic certification is facing.

A number of certifiers have stated that they will not certify CAFOs, and especially chicken porches. For many years, the CCOF has been given the “Investing In Integrity” award by the NOP. And they insist they will not certify CAFOs.

There are several foundational practices of organic farming abandoned by the USDA these days. Chicken porches are one. Confinement dairy cattle are another. A number of certifiers will not certify such operations.

There are also a number of certifiers who refuse to certify hydroponic production as organic. One of the most vocal of these is OneCert, which was recently issued a non-compliance by the NOP for their position. It was suggested that if they would just publicly say they lacked the “administrative capacity” to certify hydroponics, all would be forgiven.

But they would not say that because it was not true. OneCert has lots of administrative capacity, but they don’t believe that certifying hydroponics as organic is legal, based on OFPA.

For this they were awarded a non-compliance.

The USDA has since put this matter on hold, pending the outcome of the ongoing lawsuit concerning the organic certification of hydro.

So I want to point out a few things:

1. The NOP tolerates (or even celebrates) certifiers to refuse to certify CAFOs. But they punish certifiers who refuse to certify hydroponics.
2. OneCert’s non-compliance was about obedience, not about bad actions. It was not based on actually certifying some undeserving operation.
3.While other certifiers are doing the same thing, OneCert is the one being called out. It looks as if OneCert is being called out as an example to all. It appears that the goal is to intimidate those who refuse to certify hydroponics.
4. The majority of certified farms in America agree with the position taken by OneCert.
5. Virtually all other countries in the world agree with OneCert. This is an example of the USDA redefining organic to suit certain corporate interests.
6. The thousands of organic farmers who do not believe that hydroponics should be certified as organic will not quietly stand by while those certifiers known for their high levels of integrity are punished.

This all gets kind of whacky because hydroponics and CAFOS should never have been granted certification in the first place. So, it would make more sense for the NOP to act on the 2010 NOSB recommendation to prohibit hydro than to spend its time bullying small certifiers who are, in fact, fighting to protect the integrity of the National Organic Program. Ultimately the farmers will not remain in a program that defends the frauds while excluding the honest. No organic farmers means no organic brand.

Nate: I live in rural America. I can’t find any organic food in stores I shop in. With your concerns about different production practices, why don’t we see the market flooded with organic products if it’s so easy to have the practices you say are not in the spirit of OFPA?

Dave: The USA has greater organic sales than EU but not by much, they don’t certify hydroponics or CAFOs. They are producing a higher quality product and it has not limited the growth of their organic program. There is tremendous and real support for organic by EU governments, they work on training and education and research. They subsidize not the cost but they do sometimes subsidize certification. Dream of any farm grossing less than ¼ million should have free certification, I hope to fight for that in the farm bill.

Chat note from Dave re: Denmark

Gwendolyn Wyard, Organic Trade Association, Handling (HS); General Comment
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Good afternoon NOSB members, NOP staff and organic stakeholders in the virtual gallery.

My name is Gwendolyn Wyard and I’m the Vice President of Regulatory & Technical Affairs for the Organic Trade Association. I’m commenting today on behalf of over 9500 organic businesses across all 50 states and our mission to protect and promote organic with a unifying voice.

My comments will address excluded methods terminology, the critical role of increasing organic seed usage and the importance of staying engaged in the rulemaking process from beginning to end.

On excluded methods, OTA is in full support of the subcommittee’s proposal, and we urge NOSB to pass it, as written, at this meeting.

In our written comments, after we state our support, we go on to talk about the importance of organic seed usage and its connection to this proposal. As Kiki Hubbard discussed earlier, organic operations are obligated to ensure non-organic seed is in fact produced without excluded methods, but this can be a challenge since its production falls outside of the organic certification and oversight system. The answer? More organic seed, as a requirement.

It is OTA’s longtime position that our best option for success, is to focus on and regulate organic seed and put our energy into the development of organic seed production and organic seed breeding. Organic seed not only helps to keep GMOs out of organic, but it is THE fundamental starting point in building a thriving and resilient climate-smart organic system.

To this end, we want to see USDA prioritize the 2018 NOSB recommendation that updates the organic regulations to REQUIRE increased organic seed usage over time. We want to thank NOP for requesting feedback from stakeholders, in a federal register notice earlier this year, on how to best prioritize upcoming standards development and for sharing its current thinking on outstanding NOSB recommendations. BECAUSE, only now, can we understand that NOP is not prioritizing the recommendation on increasing organic seed usage because they believe it is already addressed by the organic regulations. Given this information, we were able bring forth important history…and explain, that NOSB initially recommended increased organic seed usage in guidance (5029), but NOP told NOSB that the guidance exceeded the regulations and that if NOSB wanted to recommend continuous improvement, the regulations would need to be revised. Thus the 2018 recommendation. Unfortunately, the NOSB process and key information that informed that recommendation was not carried forward or maintained.

So, here is the moral of the story and call to action. Standards development that begins with NOSB does not and should not end with NOSB. When a recommendation is passed by a decisive vote, then we need to stay engaged, carry the NOSB record forward and be active in each step of the rulemaking process, AND we needed to be provided with that opportunity. We need to insist that USDA regularly update stakeholders with the status, decision criteria and current positions on NOSB recommendations and advance rulemaking in a transparent and fair process.

Nate: I appreciate how elevated the discussion of organic seeds is becoming. If organic growers is being given the chance to grow organic seeds, that is also the chance for revenue to be retained in the organic community.

Johanna Mirenda, Organic Trade Association, Crops (CS); General Comment

Farm policy director for OTA. NOSB working on 2024 sunset review; OTA creates electronic surveys to measure necessity of each material under review. Rating of 5 means it is critical. We will provide updated data. HSN OTA does not support the proposal; many of the concerns in our fall comments remain unresolved. Would burden farmers without benefits. The proposal would only be able to restrict guano to our understanding and would not deal with sodium nitrate, etc. The proposal would circumvent material review by allowing products automatically if they meet the HSN proposal. NOSB passed recommendation to prohibit stripped and concentrated ammonia and we still support that recommendation, and ask that those be moved forward to rulemaking which will allow more opportunity for the public to weigh in. The USDA needs to provide the opportunity to move NOSB recommendations in a transparent process.

Brian: Struck by written comment that the HN mateirals would require extra paperwork and review form every crop and every farm, but I don’t understand why that would be when there is a very limited number of materials that fall under that. Why cant a farmer check a box saying they don’t use any of theseand then move on? How would this play out.

Johanna: If it were that simple it could minimize document burden, however the regulatory language is specific to the crop and carbon nitrogen ratio is burdensome they would have to work to understand whether they could check that box. We want to see the prohibition from last fall move forward and the sodium N move forward. Only guano would be impacted so the bang for the buck of this proposal is poor. Better to flag inappropriate materials and get them in front of the Board. There is an unmet need there. Not every 20% N fertilizer should be automatically approved, ammonia extracts for example.

Brian: With a little effort we could address this paperwork issue. C:N ration of less than 3:1 is only for a few products that most farmers won’t use. I don’t see a paperwork issue.

Johanna: Yes, you would need buying to state C:N ratio from manufacturers and material reviewers to list that product information.

Nate: What are we missing with getting our market to be the norm? That 50% and organic not being niche?

Johanna: We need organic-specific technical assistance for every aspiring community everywhere, especially underserved communities. We need federal policies to incentivize and conservation incentives to reward farmers as well. A lot of this would go outside the scope of the NOSB. We need big solutions beyond the organic regulations themselves.

Nate: Example of a prohibited natural that is not arsenic? To put into context where ammonia extracts would land?

Johanna: The only update to prohibited naturals is rotenone. Natamycin is an example; is a non-synthetic that started with a petition and went thought the process even though it was very messy. The USDA explaining their rationale in the federal log is what we need regularly. Represents the public-federal process.

Cynthia Smith, Conn & Smith, Inc. Consultant representing Ingevity Corporation, Materials (MS)

In support of distilled Tall Oil. FIFRA regulates pesticides – defines “inerts” – not an active ingredient. EPA issues tolerances for active and “inert” ingredients. In 2004, distilled Tall Oil was on List 3 because at that time it was considered to not have a complete toxicological database. In 2017, EPA did issue a toxicological database and has a complete EPA safety assessment that shows that it meets EPA’s current high safety standards. If EPA were updating the list at this point, it would be on List 4B. We do know that Canada updates its list periodically, and it is on their list 4B and is allowed in Canada.

DTO is allowed for use on both crops and animals, and in both cases, the clearance is for an “inert” ingredient.

OFPA regulates synthetic substances. Does not differentiate between active or “inert” ingredients. There is no new science that is needed to evaluate DTO.

Petition has been active for 20 months. We have also submitted additional documentation to address the errors in the TR.

Wood Turner: Will these slides be available after the session?

Michelle: I can send them to you, and they will be posted in the docket with the comments.

Brian Caldwell: You mentioned in the beginning that basically a material is either an active ingredient or an inert, but I thought tall oil could be both depending on how it is used.

Cynthia: That is a false statement that came about in the original TR, and then was stated again in the second TR. It is clearly only an “inert” ingredient.

Cynthia: I would like to speak about how we grow from 5-50%. The inert ingredients make the active ingredients work better. If you think about the value of your house in 2004, you know now it is worth more than that – that is where we are in organic ingredients – we are stuck back in 2004. If you look back at the comments on DTO, you will see that there is a need for inert ingredients. If you have better materials, you will have better products.

Logan: People have discussed the concern of adding inputs to the NL getting away from nature of OFPA. But some new inputs could be better than is what is on the list. Should we focus on the OSP to say that each organic producer should follow their OSP? Should that be looked at more instead of limiting inputs going onto the list?

Cynthia: There is a profound need for additional inert ingredients for organic formulations. The petition satisfied all the requirements but the hurdle to get there is very high. The NOSB as a while should evaluate what the NOSB can do to facilitate the availability of additional organic products that simply work better.

Wood Turner: To Be clear, the hurdle should be high for materials that are being petitioned for use. It should be a high hurdle and the process is playing out the way that it is designed to play out.

Guigui Wan, Ingevity Corporation, Materials (MS)

Distilled Tall Oil (DTO) support. DTO is not an oil chemical structure comparison (between DTO and soybean oil). DTO primarily composed of fatty acids rather than triglyceride oils. DTO has very high surface tension like water, stickier, when sprayed on leaf surface. So functionally DTO cannot function as an insecticide at the low use rate it would be used with. Like olive and neem oil it is derived from a natural substance, created from biologically source (pine trees). If DTO is no used properly it would be burned or put into landfills. DTO is valuable derived from pine trees, very safe to humans and the environments, DTO supports natural health of ecological systems.

Angela Schriver, Schriver Organics, LLC, CACS; Crops (CS)
Comment pending.

Nate: When you think about your crop rotation, you mentioned that one of the goals is to try to have more and more nutrients cycled on the farm and fewer inputs. When you are thinking about your crop rotation, do you think about needing to get the most valuable cash crop off every field every year, or do you think that some years you are feeding the soil, and some years the soil is feeding you? It’s give and take to keep the soil whole.

Angela: That is correct. And it wouldn’t be sustainable in the long term. Would it give me a bump in income for a year or two, sure, but my goal is long-term.

Nate: Would you tell us what your crop rotation is?

Angela: We live in North Central Ohio with a lot of rain for the past couple of years. Corn – Soybeans – Sunflowers – cover crops for entire year – Corn. Whenever we can squeeze in a small grain, weather allowing, that is also our goal. We are also looking for more crops to add to the rotation, as well, to keep our soil healthy and up that fertility.

Amy: Briefly talked about the organic link system. Believe you said you are affiliated with OEFFA. I wanted to ask you, I know that crops are present on our certificate, as well as the products that you produce. How many of your buyers are interested in having this information? Are there any that have asked for verification on the crops that you grow and the acres that you have?

Angela: Unfortunately, no. Sometimes I question why they wouldn’t be more concerned. I feel like the companies that are buying our crops feel that just so they have their paperwork in order, they file it and forget it. There have been times where I think that you would think they would be more concerned. I know that some of these buyers are buying imported grain that may be cheaper and they should be interested in the information, but they check their boxes and just move on.

Nate: Certified by OFA that puts acres by crop cert; is there any concern with that or does it work to have that info exposed to anyone who gets the certificate?

Angela:Neither acres or yields is something I feel I need to hide to anyone, it is information that should be readily available to anyone who finds it necessary or is even interested.

Leslie Touzeau, Quality Certification Services (QCS), Crops (CS)
Comment pending.

Logan: Appreciate written and oral comments.

Kyla: Your comments related to HSN fertilizers – connecting dots between the comments about it being burdensome versus it being easy, check a box. I think it would go like this: producer puts an input on their records and than other folks do the work because they know the ingredients and then put a limit on that fertilizer. Then the producer would then need to provide the data that is in the chart provided in the proposal.

Leslie: Yes, that sounds right what the work would be. It is possible to have the HSN fertilizers proposal, it would just require significantly more work and want to ensure the NOSb understands. Especially with a blended fertilizer without a list telling us what the C:N ratio is we’d have to take a lot of additional work determining those factors for certifiers, reviewers, and manufacturers.

Kyla: That additional work could be moot if the producer is inherently using the product less than 20%.

Leslie: Yes correct.

Brian: Struggling with this. Why couldn’t material review orgs be involved in this and make that determination for fertilizer materials? For instance for blends, the individual components with a notable C:N ratio could be flagged. It seems logical and easy.

Leslie: There are other materials besides guano that could come close to 3:1, so without a definitive “list” or some consensus between material reviewers and certifiers we could be having to evaluate each ingredient. Can’t assume every time that different fertilizers of the different ingredients are not 3:1 every time unless there is a consensus.

Brian: The material review organizations already have to check these materials, so why wouldn’t this just be part of the material. There is a strong reason to use a material review organization.

Kyla: Not all fertilizers are reviewed by material reviewers.

Leslie: there will always be materials that need to be reviewed by certifiers, for example custom blends or local blends.

Logan: When you talk about blood meal and fish we’ve identified they are less than 3;1. But you’re saying that there are some products that vary enough they may be subject to the proposal?

Leslie: I haven’t been looking at C:N ratios for all these ingredients, but there is potential to find a lower ratio. Some instances depending on production and manufacturing might inch closer to that line. A list or consensus among certifiers to identify ingredients we def need to check out would be helpful and whether it would be subject to a 20% restriction.

Day 2: Thursday, April 21, 2022 (12:00 PM ‐ 5:30 PM Eastern Time ET)

Dr. Jenny Tucker makes some opening remarks. Adds comments about avoiding “personal attacks” and comments that people were being “mean” in the chat last time.

NOSB Member Participants: Rick Greenwood, Jerry D’Amore, Kimberly Huseman, Mindee Jeffery, Nathan Powell-Palm, Wood Turner, Amy Bruch, Brian Caldwell, Carolyn Dimitri (delayed in joining), Logan Petrey, Kyla Smith, Liz Graznak, Allison, Johnson, Dr. Dilip Zandwani, Javier Zamora.

Lynn Coody, Organic Produce Wholesalers Coalition, CACS; Crops (CS); Materials (MS)
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Risk Mitigation Table – OPWC views impartiality as essentially important – found NOP’s table to focus only on Conflict of Interest. Should include risk of bias, considering pressures arising when an accreditation body also functions as a standard setting body, and need for… Focused on ISO 17011. Written comments say more about this.

HSN – After careful analysis of the proposal, concluded that concept is too imprecise as an enforcement tool. Burdensome. Examples on impacts on produce growers – need nitrogen needs for each crop grown. Using information from the proposal we see multiple technical difficulties – base rate is expressed as a range and not a target, prior crops increase/decrease nitrogen needs of current crop, cover crops affect this, as well.

Brian Caldwell: Would you spell out in simplest terms possible the key aspects of the risk mitigation conflict stance that you folks are taking? There were a lot of big words in there.

Lynn: Oversight of accreditation is a multilayered topic. We have been concerned for a long time about the aspect of this mitigation. The ISO has fairly recently been updated to include more of an emphasis on this. One of the new elements is this idea of having a risk mitigation table and vetting it with your stakeholders. We have identified multiple risks, some significant, that weren’t included in the table. We detailed it more in our comments on regulatory priorities. We are concerned about the risk of inadequate oversight…due to conflicts of the Peer Review requirements in OFPA. This is a long-standing concern, and OPWC feels that we need to get this fixed – it will require a change to OFPA. Another issue is that there is no continuous oversight. The risk that the NOP has is based on this Peer Review process that is inadequately paired with OFPA, and then there is no time requirement to addressing serious oversights. What I would recommend is another look at this table so that it does take into account all of the three major underpinnings of the NOP’s accreditation system: NOP’s regulation, ISO 17011, and any other provisions from the general management of agencies of the USDA. It’s complicated. I appreciate you reading it.

Amy Bruch: In terms of innovation – when I went through your comments, on the section on BBMF, you mentioned that the Board’s most recent recommendation on an annotation change, you mentioned that it fosters innovation. When we compare that to your comment on highly soluble nitrogen, you say that it defines the limits of that next generation of fertilizers that may be the tools that help growers that may need some assistance on their growing. I wanted to understand…

Lynn: Very perceptive reading of our comments. I would like to compare and contrast the amount of times the BBMF has gone through the subcommittee, NOSB and public comment. When we are making a really big step forward, I feel that there needs to be much more iterative consideration of these concepts. With this first coming out as a proposal, I did not feel that it was ready to be accepted on the way that it was framed, based, etc. I certainly agree that we need to take a careful look at new paradigm materials that are likely to come out in the future and review them against our evaluation criteria, I did not feel that this proposal was ready to go forward. I tried to provide as much information about that as I could, including a proposed revision to the motion. I was trying to provide another way of considering this very important issue in organics.

Nate: HSN – When thinking about…there is a fundamental acknowledgement that these HSNs are powerful for growing and for the environment. Do you think when We are looking at growers who want to use them that it isn’t reasonable to expect them to be taking soil samples quite often to figure out the impact of using these materials? For now, the materials list would be fairly short, but like you said, there are a lot of tools that growers have that would not fall under this proposed increased oversight. Kind of striking that balance to make sure that this isn’t overly burdensome, but also ensuring that we are keeping up with expectations that organic fertilizers are not impacting the environment in a negative way.

Lynn: I think it is very important to look at any way of treating organic soil. I do agree that growers take many soil samples, but the problem with the way the actual motion is framed for me is that it is dealing with nitrogen need, and the basis for it isn’t the analytical soil test – that is not how you are talking about creating the basis for comparison for certifiers – what the proposal actually says is that it is trying to get a regional basis for each individual crop and then comparing your crop to that. This is what I find problematic. It is the baseline that I think will be difficult for certifiers and growers to figure out how much nitrogen then can apply, especially these HSNs. I am concerned about it being rigorous enough to actually pan out as an enforcement tool. The way that I think it would pan out in practice is that only the most egregious cases would be caught. In fact, most of the noncompliances would not hold up. That’s what I’m concerned about. If we are going to have a standard, I want it to be clear to producers, certifiers, and stand up.

Amy: Wondering your perspective on sodium nitrate – that has been around with a very similar restriction – do you think that is clear?

Lynn: I used to think it was clear until this proposal came out. You are correct in saying they are similar, but they are not the same. This proposal talks about CROP NEEDS and the sodium nitrate talks about TOTAL NITROGEN NEEDS. I am now unclear as to whether we are talking about the nitrogen that is actually applied and 20% of that can be highly soluble, or if we are talking about the total need. I am not clear about the sodium nitrate proposal anymore, as I’m not clear on how we are going to apply them. I am now concerned about stacking of using 20% of sodium nitrate, and then using it as a highly soluble nitrogen fertilizer. I am no longer clear about it.

George Szczepanski, International Fresh Produce Association, Crops (CS); Handling (HS); Materials (MS)

IFPC represents over 500 companies involved in the ale and production of fruits and veg. IFPA notes we can’t expand due to the lack of tools, pests are a huge risk for organic producers. Production challenges are unpredictable and the removal of items from the NL is a problem. Use science based decision-making when addressing NL. The sue of HSN should be allowed, don’t limit its use. We also ask that multiple items up for sunset be kept (see our written comments). Career scientists are needed to advise the NOSB. NOSB is granted the authority to have technical advisory panels – these outside sources should be used to guide decision-making process. Specific attention should be applied for adequate tools for fresh produce growers. IFPA has submitted more detailed written comments.

DeEtta Bilek, Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM) and Farmer, General Comment
Comment pending.

Javier: Appreciate your comments; you think like a farmers which makes me happy. How you think of collaboration among smaller farmers is great. You asked the NOSB to keep maintaining the strong stand on how “organic” things are. Give an example of how the NOSB is not meeting your expectations for you and the farmers you have a relationship with?

DeEtta: Moreso NOSB has the recommendations and it takes a long time to get into the rules. Example of Strengthening Organic Enforcement.

Nate: A lot of the questions we hear highlight economic concerns. Can you speak to what you see as the future of organic marketing and cooperation?

DeEtta: More collaborative marketing or marketing through a farmer cooperative.

Thomas Sission, Ingevity Corporation, Materials (MS)

Distilled Tall Oil Petition. There is a need for inert formulation options, for the ease of use for grower and more organic pesticide options. DTO is a biobased material with many uses; there is a lack of solvents for organic products. DTO is a natural adhesive with “sticky” properties. This increases product lifecycles on crops. DTO is an anti-leaching element and in granular products DTO helps increase the time span where the product is released. DTO would help organic growers considerably. Commerical benefits as an organic inert would help expand the organic market. US growers are at a disadvantage because DTO is allowed in EU, Ca and Japan. The hurdles for acceptance on the National List should be high and the petition demonstrates DTO safety and necessity and meets that high hurdle. DTO has been used safely for generations; allowing use of this safe material has multiple benefits to the organic community.

Stephen Walker, Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA), CACS; General Comment
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

I’m Steve Walker, from MOSA, an organic certification agency based in Wisconsin. I want to stress some points from our written comments on supply chain traceability – adding acreage to certificates and standardizing bill of lading info.

MOSA certifies over 2,000 diverse organic operations throughout the U S, including many quintessential, idyllic organic farms. We recognize that preventing fraud and strong organic standards help these operations to survive. And we also recognize a persistent tension between increasing regulatory requirements and keeping certification accessible. Some recordkeeping requirements can unevenly burden organic operators. Here in our spring annual Organic System Plan update season, we’re hearing of a number of smaller organic operations now choosing to drop their organic certification, because of the squeeze. That’s a loss to our label. (And I can share an example if y’all ask about it.)

So, we support finding low-burden steps to improve traceability and fraud deterrence. Requiring acreage on certificates and consistent data points on transaction documents seem achievable. But, we’d like clarity regarding how crops and acreages would be listed, and we have a few doubts about efficacy.

We aim for certificates that balance practicality for certified operations with value in serving the organic marketplace. The value of acreage reporting may depend on certifiers agreeing on a reporting taxonomy. Finding that agreement may be a challenge, as some case-specific flexibility in certificate language can enable better organic community service.

Our organic acreage data could be reportable, and be mostly accurate. Variables like crop rotation changes or multi-cropping may introduce some data discrepancies.

Also, traceability can’t fully rely on single-point certificate and purchase information. It may be affected by the number of buyers or sellers interfacing with the inspected operation, and whether or not sales are from the same crop year indicated on certificates.

Our written comment also noted that crop acreage might be confidential business information.

But, in sum, we can support making crop-specific acreage publicly available, IF:

● The organic community finds that the potential benefits outweigh confidentiality concerns, and, if

● taxonomy and accuracy expectations are not unduly burdensome.

We have a lot of confidence in the certification and inspection communities ability to collaborate to develop consistent forms, including standardized transaction documents.

We also would appreciate technical assistance on recordkeeping expectations, with examples, and including use of appropriate regulatory discretion when deciding which communication tools to use to bring operations into better compliance.

Thank you for your work.

Mindee: Thank you for mentioning the loss of local producers. I see that in our area, as well.

Stephen: Shared a written response from a producer that MOSA had received this past week. “We have been in serious consideration about our organic cert status, contemplating its place in our small farm production…” Came to the conclusion that maintaining organic status was not something they felt was necessary – small farm, producing for local seasonal distribution, amount of paperwork required does not justify small income farm producers, certification status was for marketing purposes only and does not affect how they grow, and mentioned extreme weather conditions as requiring additional stress and added burden of cert requirements for a small farm like theirs was one set of stressors that they could eliminate. Finally, it is their hope that working together could help to ease the burden.

Amy: In your written delivery of the public comment process, you noted that MOSA is an active participant of the ACA Working Groups, and went on to say that collaboration would be needed between ACA and IOIA to capture key data for bills of lading. Is there ever a point for the farmer to be integrated in these types of workshops?

Stephen: I think there is an opportunity. Typically, the working groups do involve certifiers. Sometimes we do reach out and ask stakeholders. I’m not aware of a time when we reached out to farmers, but I do think certifiers are pretty well aware of what farmers are dealing with and are actively farming. I also think the point is to bring the right stakeholders to the table.

Liz: Being a small farmer myself, do you know in regards to the smaller scale producers, are they primarily retail selling and no wholesale production? And because they are retail selling, they may be already demanding a pretty high price for their product that they are selling, and therefore do not feel that the organic label would allow them to demand a higher price? Trying to understand why smaller producers do not feel it is necessary for them?

Stephen: I think that might be a fair representation, but I would caution that we cannot lump all together. Maybe they feel that they can communicate the attributes of organic certification without actually having it. I’ve appreciated Nate’s questions about what we can do to grow organic.

Kim: In a lot of the comments that I’m hearing and reading, the three words as we try for better SOE practices are traceability, transparency, and confidentiality. What is the line in the sand between traceability and transparency, and encroaching on confidentiality?

Stephen: I do not know if there is a concrete line – I think it is another question of balance. I know that’s hard for writing regulations. In regulations, some people like words such as “significant” that are open to interpretation, and I tend to like those words. I think that a line can be drawn with examples given to help identify exactly where that line is – here are examples of things that are not allowed, and here are examples of things that are.

Caleb Goossen, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Crops (CS)
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Hello, my name is Caleb Goossen, and I’m the crop specialist for MOFGA, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association – one of the country’s oldest organic associations.

I believe that the most important topic for me to comment on right now is regarding the restriction of nitrogen fertilizers with a C:N ratio of 3:1 or less. I thank the crops subcommittee for their work on this topic, and fully support the proposal.

Highly available sources of nitrogen with carbon-to-nitrogen ratios of 3-to-1 or less, should be greatly limited to ensure that organic fertility management remains true to the foundational principle of feeding and building soil. Carbon-to-nitrogen ratios are the best method, that I am aware of, to measure a natural fertility material’s rate of mineralization and properties as a food source to soil life, and subsequently its plant availability. The current proposal would do an excellent job of providing much needed guardrails, while still allowing organic growers flexibility in different growing conditions, with very little added burden for farmers and certifiers.

The direct relationship between C:N ratio and release rate of plant available nitrogen has been known for at least 80 years (A study on the topic at the NJ Ag Experiment station was published in Soil Science in 1942).

The proposed 3:1 carbon-to-nitrogen ratio is a generous dividing line for distinguishing rapidly available nitrogen fertility amendments, that allows producer flexibility in meeting acute crop needs with common, traditionally used organic fertility sources, while still setting a minimum floor to ensure that at least 80% of a crop’s nitrogen supply is also supplying at least some carbon to feed the soil. Bruce Hoskins, at the University of Maine suggests a 10:1 C:N ratio as the threshold for rapid nitrogen availability of fertility amendments.

Amy: Quickly compare and contrast the C:N ratio with looking at just N solubility.

Caleb: Solubility is a trick concept, whether something can dissolve or is “mist-able” and can be applied as a liquid is different. Ammonium nitrate comes out readily as a soluble N source from Manure. I like to use plant availability as a term. Fast, slow, and tie up release are also important terms – gets back to microbes in the soil having their own C:N ratio in their bodies. When you supply them with excess C they lock up N and when you supply excess N they blow through C.

Elijah Dean, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, Crops (CS)

Full time farmer in N. Central Ohio. HSN fertilizer comment: fully support the extension of the existing rules regarding Chilean nitrate and it seems like the logical extension to extend that to all other similar N sources. Appreciate effort to establish other guidelines with 3:1 ratio. Allows flexibility in producers’ uses and flexibility in new products coming to the market. As a farmer having that flexibility can be very important certain years. For example, our wheat right now could use extra N and being able to use Chilean N to get an extra boost.

Addressing timing of meetings: spring and fall is disadvantageous to farmers of the country. The Zoom meetings are beneficial and puts farmers on a more equal playing field. Going forward it would be advantageous when it’s a time when more of the countries farmers can attend. Shifting the meetings 2 weeks every time and progressing them through the year for example, or put them in the winter when farmers are more likely to participate. It would be more advantageous to farmers and the organic market as a whole.

Amy: The last commenter mentioned that it shouldn’t be a burden for the calculations to use as highly soluble nitrogen product, and you mentioned that the guidelines are clear in the proposal. Do you find that the calculations are straightforward enough that you feel comfortable with what is proposed?

Elijah: Yes, the document lays out enough examples of how I could use this and I would have no problem at all implementing that in a way that follows the rules.

Logan: Curious – You said that this winter you are going to use a little sodium nitrate to help you out – what kind of conditions have you had where you are requiring the use?

Elijah: Still something we are considering. We managed to get our wheat planted early, so it is looking good because we had a mild winter. We will probably be looking at lower nitrogen with that yield. Not sure if we are going to be using Chilean nitrate or not, but grateful it’s a possibility.

Logan: The meetings, we will definitely talk about the timing. We are also going to have to consider the onboarding of new Board members and the exiting of other Board members.

Elijah: In our area, depending on how the winter goes and when the wheat is planted, it would unadvisable for us to fertilize every year, because if the crop doesn’t do well, we could be over fertilizing.

Logan: When you say overfertilizing, you mean with manure, so we could be polluting with organic fertilizers?

Elijah: Yes.

Jeff Dean, Timberlane Organic Farms, OEFFA Grain Growers Chapter, Crops (CS); General Comment

Thank you for serving on the NOSB. Hydroponics and container systems: these systems don’t use soil and don’t comply with the letter or spirit of law. The goal is to build soil in the rules. We can’t have non-compliance being certified. For HSN fertilizer – there is already a precedent in Chilean nitrate. Support the addition of this motion for HSN fertilizers. It’s simple, and if a grower thinks it’s too complicated to figure out they don’t need to use it. And if they are using too much they are probably not in compliance with organic. The timing of the meetings needs to be scheduled differently so more farmers can participate; worried the NOSB does not want farmers to participate.

Amy: Thank you. I really appreciate your participation and taking time away from your operation.

Mindee: Thank you. I was wondering if you see this platform as a functional compromise to the timing question?

Jeff: I think that meeting in person has more impact, but this definitely helps. The problem with meeting in person is that it is constantly big business trying to get in and water down the rules. It’s hard for farmers to compete with that. They can send an entourage of people to come in and talk with you, and it’s much harder for farmers. Is the face-to-face conversation more impactful than zoom?

Mindee: Fair question. My group hasn’t had an in-person meeting yet, so I don’t have the comparison. I’m really grateful for all farmer participation.

Jeff: This time of year, it’s even hard to get away to get on a zoom meeting. The spring and fall are sometimes difficult. We have done the call-ins at the edge of the field already. I know a lot of farmers do not participate because of that. I do not know why we can’t have them in the winter.

Nate: We do legally need 6 months between the meetings – it is tricky to find that. There will always be people who cannot meet.

Rick: I agree with Jeff. I think I’m the only board member now in my 5th year that has been to a live meeting. I agree that they are more impactful. You really get a feel for what is going on that is missing on the zoom. The other side of it, with using the zoom, it is 2 days that I gain because I don’t have travel time. It is really hard to balance out a big country like this and find a time that is appropriate for everyone.

Jeff: The suggestion has been made that you can move the meeting forward 2 months each time, which would comply with the 6 months, and make it equally inconvenient for everyone.

Dilip: Another option, we have a hybrid form – it could be in person and on the zoom as well, for those that cannot make it in person.

Nate: Yes, there is going to be some piloting of new tech for a hopefully in-person meeting in the fall. As an organic farmer, what is holding back your growth, and what do you think it would take for your conventional neighbors to go organic?

Jeff: Education of the farmers. I do not think they understand much about organic. Sometimes there is still a bad connotation out there of what organic is and how it works. The transition seems to be a tough hurdle for a conventional farmer to get over. When they finally go through it, I don’t think it’s as hard as they thought it would be. I think nutrition and education are the keys.

Joel Kurtz, Maysville Elevator. Organic Inspector, CACS; Crops (CS); General Comment

Work as agronomist in Ohio and a contract inspector for OFA. Support restricting HSN fertilizers, it will encourage farmers to manage soil more environmentally. Oversight to defer fraud – support universal bill of lading. Acreage reporting would work best if approached by size bias. Small acreage could be reported as “mixed crops”. Data systems and building infrastructure – we should use and be dependent on de-centralized auditing system instead of centralized auditing system. We’ve seen food infrastructure fail and that impacts access to food. Having flexible diverse auditing methods it appears to not be as efficient but when one method fails another can pick up the slack. In short, paper still has value.

Nate: I’m really excited that we have someone from the Amish community commenting today. When we look at…we’ve heard from several certifiers that we want to create recordkeeping requirements and advancements in recordkeeping that are not overburdensome on certain groups. Does a universal bill of lading seem doable?

Joel: I believe so. If we had a universal bill of lading that the farmer could fill out, and that could go along to say the elevator, I do not think that would be a problem.

Nate: In looking at the acreage reporting, do you feel that you and your neighbors are comfortable having their acreage listed on the certificate?

Joel: Yes, I do think they are comfortable. I don’t think they would have a problem reporting actual acreage for their crops.

Amy: You mentioned that if we had some type of universal bill of lading that could maybe transfer through, is there a chance with low burden to associate the bills of lading that farmers have with the settlement sheets that you have so that reconciliation could tie back with low burden?

Joel: I think that could work out. We have to keep records anyway, and we are dealing with the farmer. The farmer’s success and our success go hand in hand. If we can provide something for a farmer and provide that integration into the system, that will be very beneficial to the farmers, and we will have no problem using it that way.

Raymond Yoder, Jr., Green Field Farms, CACS;Crops (CS)

Green Field Farms has about 330 members in Green Field Farms, neighbors with Joel plain community in central Ohio. Our mission is to keep small families on the farm and being the bridge from farmers to consumer. Thank you to the NOSB members for taking the time to serve. Support the continued use of restricted micronutrients – they are very essential or soil health and highly nutritious crops. Magnesium – most of the soils we work with in Midwest it’s inherently high in magnesium but low in the crop. Our preferred source for magnesium correction is magnesium sulfate (balancing magnesium and calcium). If high in the soil we are low in the crop. Recommendation to change the rule. Magnesium deficiency is often identified by farmers as N deficiency, but it is different. Support the HSN proposal. The commercial tactic to apply so much N:P:K for record yields is not soil friendly.

Amy: Interesting to hear what you think about soil relationships and soil balance. One of our topics in CACS is on universal bills of lading and displaying acreage. With your buyers has anything requested anything in addition to your certificate in the past.

Raymond: Buyers have not other than requesting a lot of food safety paperwork. For integrity purposes, no. And we do sell direct to Kroger and HarrisTeeter and places like that.

Doyle Stoller, Stollers’ Organic Dairy Ltd., Crops (CS); Livestock (LS)
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Dear NOSB board, I apologize that this may sound impersonal as I quickly read this. However, I don’t know how else to clearly condense my concerns down to 3 minutes.

First I want to thank you for all you do for the organic industry. Our family farm has been certified organic since 2001 before there was even a reliable organic market. We farm organically because we believe in the system and are dedicated to promoting and preserving the integrity and viability of organic agriculture for our children and our customers. The origin of livestock decision has proven once again that you stand to protect organic farmers with integrity. The decisions you make have far reaching effects both positively and negatively on all aspects of the organic world and our farm.

I am here to highlight the importance and necessity of copper and zinc hoof care products. Heel warts and foot rot is present on most dairy farms. These two pathogens were on our farm when we moved here in 1996. Most well managed farms use copper and zinc products both in foot baths and in sprays or salves. Without these products, heel warts and hoof rot would rapidly become the top animal health and welfare concern on many farms.

While some conventional farmers use antibiotics or dangerous products like formaldehyde, most conventional and all organic farmers use safer copper and zinc products. Most effective salves and sprays contain zinc sulfate, zinc oxide, and/or zinc chloride. For some reason zinc sulfate was not allowed for a few years. Foot problems are very painful and the animal welfare on our farm suffered due to this decision. Most everyone would agree that the best hoof programs alternate products and active ingredients. For example our hoof trimmer advised us to use pinxav. We use it on our own children even as infants. I submitted it for review and all of the ingredients are acceptable except the active ingredient, zinc oxide. Most good hoof healthcare options are not allowed because zinc oxide or zinc chloride are their active ingredients. This is very confusing due to the fact that zinc oxide and zinc chloride are a safe and acceptable organic feed ingredient. If I can feed these products, why can’t I let my cow step in them? Copper sulfate is good and is most commonly used as a footbath ingredient. Most organic farmers use this because as stated earlier the other good zinc options are not allowed. It is important that farmers continue to have this tool in their toolbox. However, we don’t feel copper is as effective as zinc products when sprayed or wrapped on the foot. Also, when using only copper it can buildup in the soil. Copper toxicity due to foot bath’s is a concern. On the other hand zinc is always deficient and beneficial in our soils and the crop removal rates are much higher. Zinc buildup from foot baths is never a concern. Thus, from the animal welfare perspective, as well as the resulting impact on the soil, the organic ruminant industry would greatly benefit from zinc oxide and zinc chloride as well as copper being approved for animal healthcare as well as a feed ingredient.

Thank you for your time!!!

Kyla: Zinc sulfate was in the same place with copper sulfate being allowed and zinc sulfate not being allowed, so it was petitioned. That is how things get onto the list; they have to be submitted as a petition to the Board and we go through the rigorous review process.

Alan Lewis, Natural Grocers, General Comment
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IFOAM Organics International is moving organic forward with equity, justice, local sovereignty, community. US is not.

Example is hydroponic container farming.

Hundreds of large hydro operations in Mexico – poor labor standards, stealing water, waste disposal problems, concentration of wealth, smallholders out of farming. 270 organic berry operations in containers under miles of plastic hoop houses.

Cert by CCOF, Tilth, Primus. US smallholders have lost the price premium because their products don’t sell at the higher price required by real organic. Farmers walking away from certification.

New technologies threaten organic further.

“Science based” policies without an ethical foundation are dangerous.

Gene edited seeds, seed coatings, RNAi applications, synbiotech ingredients entering organic based on “science” and “ttols in the toolbox” without regard to the outcomes we once claimed to espouse.

Real Organic Project is holding the line, but US organic is not a leader within the movement, it’s a cautionary tale.

Nate: Concentration in ownership of means of production for ag. I mentioned yesterday that it’s tricky to find organic in rural america. Coops only exist in the biggest cities in organic. How do we get to the point so that gas stations carry organic. How do we grow this so it’s not niche, it’s the norm?

Alan: we made a deal w the devil to get a cheap year-round supply pushed into distribution system- conv stores and small groceries. Grocery stores buying from local distributor, even if manager runs a farm and grows berries, he/she has no ability to sell berries at the store. we broke that system. … that’s the right question but we really need to look away from the US to answer that question for how to move forward, or look to ROP who does read ethics into science-based policy and culture into ag instead of a commodity with a specific set of characteristics.

David Meyer, CP Kelco, Handling (HS)

Hello and thank you. As a former farm kid, I want to say thanks to the board members. I grew up on a farm in central wis. This is important.

Pectin: non amidated form on non-agricultural products allowed in processed products.

Pectin is used in a variety of food applications. Unique functionality for particular products, esp jams and jellies. Allowed in standard of id products sold as organic. Texture. Also, bakery, breads, cakes, increases volumes in those products. Alternative to starch. You can bake those without having it fall all over. Yogurt- mouth feel. Beverages- fruit juices. Protects proteins from aggregation. Confectionary- gummy products!

Availability of organic pectin. organic fruit is mostly sold as whole fresh fruit, so neither quantity or quality of organic peel available to produce of pectin commercially.

Brian: other sources than citrus peels?

David: Yes- apple would be the major source- but mostly sold fresh as whole apples. So, we can’t get the pectin out. Pectin in sugar beets, but that creates its own problems-; citrus is best for a strong gel for jams and jellies. Different pectin react differently. Not organic sources to use.

Dilip: Cementing material between cell walls. Organic sources are limited. What can you tell us about the manufacturing process from fruits?

David: Citrus example: Fruit harvested, juiced, concentrated for fruit juice. Take out the oil. Citris oil in us for sodas. What’s left is cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin. Extract using low heat extraction. Dried down and sold as pectin.

Jackie DeMinter, MOSA Certified Organic, Crops (CS); Handling (HS); Livestock (LS); Materials (MS)
Comment pending.

Nate: What is holding us back from MOSA realizing 4,000 clients. How do we make it so organic is such an obvious route.

Jackie: Capacity comes to mind right away. Boots on ground- inspectors, reviewers, career path that could stand some development work.

Nate: you appreciate to monitor integrity for HSN products, but don’t want additional review work. What do you do now for Sodium Nitrate. How to make easy.

Jackie: For our clients- products not of concern because sodium nitrate is an ingredient in a multi ingredient product in most inputs in use by clients. They are not abusing input. As far as work now, wee don’t have the 20% restriction now, but wee used to do that, but in every case we never once discovered it was in use more than 20%. We don’t have the concern in our experience. A couple of clients use a 16-0-0 product, but it’s one of many products for use in extreme times or when soil temps are not warm enough.

Mike Dill, Organic Produce Wholesalers Coalition, CACS
Comment pending.

Jerry: Thank you for you written comments on the technical support discussion document. Workload and the lack of compensation limit the pool of people able to accept nomination for NOSB seat – was there more meat you can put on that particular subject.

Mike: Community understands this is a deterrence form being on the NOSB. Maybe there are ways around compensating folks. We have not put it on our agenda to access alternatives. Maybe a crop grower could get free certification if on the NOSB or something creative. Feel it’s unfortunate the workload is so heavy that it does require a sponsor.

Jerry: 3rd year on the NOSB our whole self-evaluation of inclusion and equity, we are hard on ourselves and the community is hard on us. We may address this particular issue and thank you for your comments.

Kyla: Wondering in regards to revision to handling standards, if this were to become work agenda item. Should SOE be finished first or could work go on before the finalization of that rule?

Mike: Our handling standard originated in a response to SOE. Right now is a good time to access ti as a future work plan. Fingers crossed we will see SOE very soon. So important to get clarity around this; don’t think SOE will have a lot of the elements we are looking for. For ex: sanitation. It would be great to have a set of standards for sanitation, intervening steps, etc. Eliminating need for certifier analysis. Feel that it’s a good idea to not have to consider handling issues as we work through SOE.

Adam Lazar, CEO of Asarasi, Inc., Handling (HS); Policy Development (PDS); General Comment

Thanks for having me. Founder and CEO of Asarasi- plant source water company. advance 20,000 American farmers. Something simple called: water. We know water is an enormous global issue. Stage 2 tier water restrictions on co river- alternate sources of pure water needed.

Sugar free maple sap. Leverage to bring into bottled water industry. Certified through NOFA and Baystate. Accelerating growth all over world.

Tapping maple tree tradition- now processing with RO and taking sugar out of sap. Consolidate pure water product. Double their income on maple crop with little extra labor.

Water usually highly contaminated… exempt as ingredient in og program today. With 1 bil available tree water. Farms doubled money by selling water byproduct. huge advantage for organic.

This can scale to over a trillion gallons domestically. Huge env and ec win!

We make lost of different products, seltzers, teas. Great reception w consumers. Even used to make 0 groundwater plant sourced organic beer.

Water is exempt ingredient made from (contaminated) sources. 99% of product is not organic. Remove the exemption for water. Allow purity claims to be advanced. Consumer confidence and authenticity. Ground water is saved. Make world better place.

Amy: appreciate your comments.

Michael Hansen, Consumer Reports, Handling (HS); Materials (MS)
Comment pending.

Dilip: This is very well presented. I appreciate your thoughts. RNA and DNA are nucleic acids. That is a very valid point.

Michael: We saw this was happening and made sure this def was accepted globally in CODEX.

Brian: Thanks, Michael. Looking to the future, do you have ideas about how we can enforce and monitor new varieties that may come about using GE techniques not disclosed in variety description or any other place.

Michael: This is the issue of whether you can detect the changes. If you have the before and after you can detect those changes. Even when you use CRISPR it makes more than one edit which can be detected. The people developing these technologies need a way to detect it as well so they can prevent others from “infringing on their intellectual property”. That’s why they make sure they can enforce their intellectual property.

Doug Currier, The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), Crops (CS); Handling (HS); Livestock (LS)

I am commenting today on highly soluble nitrogen fertilizers. My comments aim to provide examples of how the use of the generic term “nitrogen” in the proposed standards revision could need added clarification to support assessment of fertilizers that are coming in right at 3:1 C:N. As discussed in our written comments, the term “nitrogen” is likely most commonly understood to mean total nitrogen. Total nitrogen is the sum of ammonia, organic nitrogen (amino acids, urea, and proteins), nitrate, and nitrite. Of these nitrogen species, soluble inorganic nitrogen (ammonia, nitrate, nitrite) are those for which the NOSB has documented their concern, the concern that their use goes against principles of organic production. Acknowledging that soluble inorganic nitrogen is the basis of concern could help stakeholders understand which materials are at higher risk of violating the proposed C:N ratio. Focusing on inorganic soluble nitrogen levels can also help with dealing with materials that border at or around 3:1 C:N. Examples are included in our written comments and I will give one now. The C:N ratio of blood meal could border at or below 3:1 C:N based on lab reports on file at OMRI when using total nitrogen value. The nitrogen in blood meal will however not come anywhere near 100% inorganic soluble nitrogen which suggests that using soluble inorganic nitrogen value in the ratio provides a clearer picture of a material not of concern. Fish products and hydrolyzed soy are two other examples explored in written comments. The need for technical support for certifiers and growers is an important factor to ensure a successful implementation of a standards revision that addresses use of highly soluble nitrogen products. While OMRI shares concerns raised by others regarding the burden placed on certifiers, growers, and material review organizations to ensure materials below 3:1 C:N ratio are identified and their use restricted, we believe that with clear messaging from NOSB which answers the why behind the standards revision recommendation, combined with effective/assessable technical support outlets, it is possible to enforce the proposed standard that addressing low C:N ratio materials.

Amy: Doug, thank you for your time today and for providing written comments. It would be helpful to hear you… you guys implement guidance on liquid fertilizer for use. Blended fertilizers.

Doug: We’re getting the formulations statement, products identified. Within that review we can ID N fertilizers and look at whether or not they’re below 3:1 C:N or above. The problem becomes how to convey our findings to the public. We could develop a restriction that conveys what we found in our review. We could say this product formulates with x ratio so the end user (certifier, grower) has to think about the product more in regards to limiting its use. That’s one thing that comes to mind. Could use a restriction. Blended fertilizers are very common. We would be able to look at that level within the blend to know which are restricted and which are not.

Dilip: I am a new member. Trying to understand. Tell us how you list a new product or material on OMRI list. Humic acid and fulvic ? Acid. There are companies making the same product, same name, process is the same. Some humic acids are listed and some are not. How do you make the distinction.

Doug: Doug talks about how they would address the HSN proposal.We would look to the NOSB discussion to inform our thinking about the NOSB approach. Whatever is in the regulation is what we are basing our standards off of.

Malaika Elias, Friends of the earth, Materials (MS); General Comment

Food and tech campaigner for Friends of The Earth. Excluded methods: we support the recommendations. I strongly urge more techniques be included to the excluded methods, cell fusion and protoplast fusion. Need updated documentation to keep up with new GE techniques. Currently the list of Excluded Methods is incomplete and makes references to say “recombinant DNA tech” and should be updated with more current terminology. Urge the NOSB to continue to update the list to include new GE techniques.

Heather Spalding, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, General Comment
Comment pending.

Brian: The PFAS thing is a big deal. Are there issues with accuracy and testing at the PPB & PPT level?

Heather: Cannot answer that. I do know that it is so toxic at the PPB or PPT level is calling much more attention to this. There are lowering levels of screening levels and threshold levels that are being recommended for contamination all of the time. We should probably be lowering them even further. I do not know the specifics about how much integrity there is around the practices of detecting this. There needs to be so much more research and public resources available to set thresholds for how PFAS moves through the soil and water, how it is taken up by different crops, where it is in different parts of crops. There is a huge need for this. We need federal action.

Nate: Would be interested to hear if you have any more specific request for an agenda item for PFAS for the Board?

Heather: We are developing a workplan for various agencies in the federal government. We have submitted a letter to Secretary Vilsack. I will be happy to share that document with you. We are also advocating for action at FDA, EPA. There are many agencies that could be doing more on this.

Nate: We will follow up with you. This needs our attention.

Heather: I appreciate that. The key things we are really feeling is awareness for farmers for when it’s safe and when it’s no longer safe to be farming their land. We do not have the data to show what a permissible level of PFAS contamination in various different crops, and we really need that.

Oren Holle – Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM), General Comment
Comment pending.

Nate: As we look to the growth of the industry, organic has been an exceptional example of a grassroots growth with a lot of all-size farmers engaging and building the industry. I hear your concerns about larger operations in organic. What would you say is the key to getting more all-size farmers engaged in organic?

Oren: Among the grain farmers, we have seen transitioning in and out. Much of that has been due to the fluctuations and the market potential. Prices bouncing around. I think the basic premise is that one of the questions is we are looking forward to the economic revenue that can be generated, but they aren’t sure that it has any longevity. If there was some degree of assurance that there would be stabilizing in the market process, that would be a big asset. It is also still a matter of education. With fertilizers and chemicals going sky high, a number of producers are looking that way. If the economics were there and there was some kind of assurance of stability, that would help. Most still have to sit down with their banker and assure them that the transition is going to be worth it.

Kestrel Burcham – The Cornucopia Institute, (CACS;Crops (CS); Livestock (LS); General
Note: This public commenter shared their comment with us in full, and is copied verbatim below.

Good afternoon members of the NOSB and NOP. My name is Kestrel Burcham. I am the Policy Director for The Cornucopia Institute.

Our planet is experiencing extreme stress due to climate change — potentially climate disaster — that will fundamentally alter how we relate to our environment. Some of this change is caused by the way we farm. Despite this reality, the USDA seems bent on staying the course with their general support of chemically-intensive farming.

The NOSB has asked other commenters what it would take to increase organic’s share of the market to 50%. What it will take is a broad recognition that conventional agriculture as we know it is a failure in all counts. It is more expensive, more dangerous, less socially beneficial, and produces less nutritious and less flavorful food. A growing body of scientific research shows that farming systems designed and managed according to agroecological principles can meet the food needs of our society, while also addressing our serious environmental and social issues.

To expand the organic marketplace, we need to improve integrity and transparency throughout the agricultural system. The whole organic system must commit to continuous improvement. We need the organic label to stand for true conservation agriculture, as an example for how all farming should be.

The organic marketplace needs to solve its existing problems, and strive to be better for tomorrow. Of particular concern are issues of consistency, rule improvements, and transparency and information:

A certifier survey on policies for three-year transition periods showed serious inconsistencies. These inconsistencies encourage bad actors to cheat the system, pushing the industry as a whole away from the goal of continuous improvement.

We support technical assistance for the NOSB, knowing that these volunteer roles are a heavy lift. Part of that technical support should include expertise and guidance on the most recent research, including that presented by public commenters.

Additionally, we recognize that the NOSB cannot consider economics when evaluating substances on the National List; however, the NOP should not let economic factors drive decision-making concerning environmental or human health.

Focusing on staying true to principles of conservation agriculture and maintaining continuous improvement is critical to help the organic marketplace grow.

Finally, we are very concerned about the additions to the PPM that may have the effect of limiting free speech in a federal public forum. The phrase “personal attacks” is subjective. Sometimes comments that might “impugn the character” are factual – and free speech protects those kinds of remarks. There are real questions about whether the NOSB can restrict commenters in this manner and we would like to see the USDA’s attorneys address these concerns.

Nate: If I were an organic consumer, what is a reason why I should buy organic food? What is going well in our industry?

Kestrel: There is a lot going on that should be exciting for consumers – research shows that you will lower your risk to exposure to pesticides. Cover cropping and crop rotation are increasing not just carbon sequestration, but resilience of the food system so that these farms are producing more than ever. With the pandemic, we realize what an important piece food system resilience is. There is an increase in micronutrients in foods. A lot of research around how practices affect nutrients and I’m looking forward to that being published. Organic food is the answer not just for the consumer who can afford it, but for transforming our entire food system moving forward. Will take a lot of consumer education and anti-organic propaganda that we will need to fight against, but as time goes on, there is so much going on that really recommends what we are doing to the rest of the world and to consumers, too.

Bryce Irlbeck – Agrisecure, (CACS)

West Central Iowa farmer and consultant.

HSN – I saw a comment from a representative in my state and thought it important to ensure that it is never more clear that the people who represent us do not actually represent us. I support your stand as a board. This practice is significantly increasing our cost of production by taking those products and shipping them out of state.

On my farm, we cannot get enough chicken manure, as it is being hoarded by large companies.

Import markets and organic certification standards – How do you increase organic production? I think one of the things that I see on organic farms is the volatility of organic because of imports. During the low periods, it forces farmers out because they import lower price grain. Right now we are in a high production time with higher prices. Great for us, but we know that the bottom side of this is going to be painful. If we could find a middle ground to stabilize the market through adding acres to the organic certificate and centralizing crop sales so that we know what is sold and what is available on each farm would be a good start.

Brian: Felt like you ran out of time – any vital other comments you wanted to make?

Bryce: Along with the imports that do not allow us to create a sustainable market, we also import a lot of insignificant grains – barley – so we see a lot of unsustainable rotations.

Amy: It sounds like you work with a lot of transitioning and organic farmers – top 3 barriers to expanding organic production?

Bryce: Instability of price. Education part of understanding the certification process and getting it so that it’s one process and not 100 different processes. Certification – more consistency between agencies.

Nate: In looking at this whiplash market that we’re seeing with really high prices and really low troughs, do you have any take on farmers trying to organize in a way that stabilizes those supply chains? Your take on coops? How do we stabilize this to help it grow so that end buyers have a consistent supply and farmers have a consistent price?

Bryce: No 2 farmers agree usually. Really comes down to enforcing the integrity of organic. The production that has been coming into the country with such reduced rates for the past 3-5 years has been really hard and we’ve seen a lot of people drop out. It’s really standardizing the rules to get that stability.

Nate: What is your crop rotation – do you feed the soil – do you try to grow the most profitable crop year after year?

Bryce: I am different than most – 3-4 years alfalfa – 1 year corn. We are growing the vast majority of our nitrogen and taking out the need for weed control. While this may not look like the most profitable, it really is if you take in the different issues that we avoid this way. We might do a few beans here and there, but not much.

Kim: Try to look at ways to understand the market dynamics from a practice standard – do any of your…

Bryce: Specifically grains, no. It’s a true market. I call up and they bid what I’m willing to accept. The inputs do have some connections to the conventional markets, but the grain prices… Less people around the world want to “fake” organic in those other countries. If they are selling $7 conventional corn, why fake it for $10 and go through that process?

Justin Raikes, Farmer, CACS

5th generation farmer from Nebraska, raise grains and forages and continue to transition more land to organic. Also grow wagyu beef. Agree with Bryce, and domestic and imported. Benefits to organic is good pay and benefits to entire team. Big concern is the integrity questions: whether we are completing on a level playing field. Particular to imports but also applies to domestic fraud as well. Very interested in the integrity issues. Second, noticed on the part of end-users and market makers and merchandisers a real reluctance to challenge the validity of suspect imports and domestic. There are not market incentives to look hard at where inputs are coming from. Notable organic end user: would rather pay rowers in India $1-2 per bushel more than deal with farmers here in the USA. Encourage NOSB to pursue true integrity standards and good enforcement.

Logan: Justin good to see you; helped get my operation into organic.

Amy: On our work agenda is proposing to have acres on certificates to have more transparent-type conversation and so that those end users can start having those conversations. Would that be helpful or a burden?

Justin: Fully support, hard to think to think of a downside.

Nate: When you are thinking about growing organic, you talked a lot about the viability of your business, what can the Board do and how do we help farmers like you realize more opportunities? How do we grow this thing that is so valuable? Do you see organic as a more resilient system – as something that is the future of your community?

Justin: I agree that the integrity piece is a big deal. The ability to grow small grains is a big deal. Corn and soybeans are what people know, but having more flexibility in rotation is a big deal. That’s why we are interested in continuing to grow and increase the cover crop seed base. We want to see more visible end users in more geographies and the integrity stuff that we talked about. I think that if people see it at the grocery store, that’s important that they see end users from here. I recently got in an argument with the university extension folks because I do not feel that their support is all that great. We argue that we need a good pipeline of people coming out of the university because there are a lot of things that we can do, but we need people to do them. We are trying to create good opportunities for people, and we have been able to do that so far, but we cannot manage every opportunity that can come our way and it’s disappointing to see them go away if we cannot capitalize on them with enough human capital.

Lori Stern, Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service, General Comment
Comment pending.

Nate: We’ve heard a lot about organic not being an obvious climate change solution. When we are looking at that we are only 1% of the land, what do you see is the advantage of elevating organic farmers versus anyone who is willing to participate and is above conventional farming?

Lori: Ultimately, I think we want to get to the place where what we’re advocating for isn’t simply “less bad.” At the end of the day, small farmers do feed the world. I think we need to do as much as we can to strengthen this and the ability for farmers to farm at human scale. I think the notion of building healthy soils and sustainability – this is still where we want the balance of this to happen.

Liz: Being a small farmer myself, I am very glad that you brought up this topic. This is a conversation that was happening in the chat earlier today. I think it is a real concern how to keep and get more younger newer smaller scale farmers having faith in the label and having faith in what USDA NOP stands for. I recognize that it is an issue, but I don’t know what the answer is, how to approach the young farmers and small-scale farmers that are in my community to impress upon them why they should certify. From MOSES’ perspective, what ideas do you have of ways to address the problem?

Lori: Really hard question. Group certification is something that happens, not ubiquitous, not all certifiers know how to promote that. We need to start with reducing the barriers. Access to the NOP. Doing what we can to really promote markets. If people know there is a place to sell into. Really looking at equity along entire food systems and value chains. The concerns can be where the profits end up. If we can reduce barriers. The land access thing is just tough, as well, and trying to be really creative in how that happens, too.

Beatrice Maingi, Safe Foods Corporation, Handling (HS)

CPC is an FDA approved intervention to reduce pathogens in poultry plants. This is a CPC most often used to control algae but is also approved in oral applications (ex. Mouth wash). CPC’s function is not the same as paraquat and diquat. Data from the USDA FSIS shows that existing materials in organic processing are inadequate in addressing food borne pathogens. FSIS identified KPI for pathogenic strains; 42.5% of KPI strains from all establishment. And 100% prevalence came from organic –only. Much less prevalence from establishments using CPC. SubCommittee said rules are unclear on how to qualify the inert compounds in a product. In CPC it’s probably propelyne glycol (unclear). Comparison to peracetic acid as an “inert” ingredient.

Nate: Sanitizers is always something I have at the top of my mind, helpful to hear from expets like you.

Doug Crabtree, Vilicus Farms, CACS; Crops (CS)

North Central Montana – seeding today. Emphasize the need to schedule meetings when it would be more convenient for producers to be involved.

HSN – We grow 15-20 crops across 13,000 acres. Have been engaged in organic ag for 20+ years. Worked as a certifier, inspector. Have a lot of experience. I find these products to be unnecessary and see many risks in their inclusion in our systems and those that I’m familiar with in the vast majority of the country. We rely a lot on green manure crops – 5 year rotation – 2 of those are green manure crops. In our 7 year rotation, we have 2 years devoted to crops that are grown strictly to feed the soil. I understand that is a requirement. The last thing we would want is to have to go off farm to get something to feed our fertility.

Nate: When you think about growing your system – 13,000 acres – that sound expansive with a lot going on there and a lot of crops being grown – could you speak more about how you view the relationship between the farmer and the land as far as feeding the land, the land feeding the farmer, and how there might be a missed piece in all of this where we are looking at a holistic system?

Doug: First, I’d offer, in Montana, we’re a very small farm. The normal nonorganic operations that surround us are 2-3 times the scale that we operate on. We call our farm Vilicus – the Latin word meaning “steward of the land.” What we are really here for is to be stewards, build soil, feed the biology, and as a byproduct of that, we will grow food for others. If we do not take care of the soil, we are not organic by any definition, and the key to that is to look to nature as our guide – diversity – more crops, more livestock, integrate more – spread your risk – diversify economically and agronomically.

Kim: Being a larger scope producer, can you speak to your challenges with sourcing seed for your crop rotation and give us a big more dialogue from your perspective in that arena?

Doug: If you would have asked me 6 months ago, I would have said we never have any trouble sourcing seed. The biggest supply chain challenge that we’ve faced is that there were some seeds this year that we couldn’t buy. I hope and think that is transitory. I think the best thing we can do is grow our own or work with other producers in our regions to grow seed organically on our own farms and it can be another market for us, as well.

Nate Lewis, Oyster Bay Farm, Crops (CS)
Comment pending

Nate: I would recommend pulling back the recommendation, and a definition for the term mined substances of mined substances of high solubility. And a term added to 205.105 would also achieve a lot of the goals and give a good baseline to the work already done.

Amy: Mentioned to defined mined substances of high solubility?

Nate: My definition: two pieces need to look at are mined piece (would want to be expansie of that, like mined could come form chicken manure piles) and high solubility should have to do with plant availability and the behavior of things in the soil to ensure they are not bypassing natural processes. High solubility we want to align with existing terms.

Nate: What is the ticket to seeing organic grow to where I can go into any gas station in rural America and be able to pluck fresh organic fruits and vegetables from the shelves.

Nate: Really going to be site specific depending on what you are growing and what your goals are. Farmer education. Distribution channels are a challenge. Reassigning how our government subsidizes food production – there’s a reason why cheetos are cheap and apples aren’t.

Ken Dallmier, Clarkson Specialty Grain – president, COO, General Comment

Provide organic and non GMO soy lecithin. The $60B of the organic market is unique and driven by the faith and trust in the USDA organic seal and the production practices subscribed to that seal. 3 ideas to the NOSB to reduce fraud: Improve domestic demand by tightly regulating imports. Expand the harmonized tariff schedule… These new HTS codes will allow mass balance audits. Second, direct USDA to use its recall authority for products using the seal that are not organic. A punitive fine should be used. Third, require organic certificates to declare crops by acreage to established a way to perform mass balances. These action items enforce already existing regulations of the US organic market. Provide mechanisms to consistently apply regulations across the globe. USDA organic seal has grown from an idea into a $60B marketplace. A solid regulatory structure needs to be consistently applied or we risk losing customer trust.

Amy: Appreciate your ideas to deter fraud. #3 is one we are currently discussing in subcommittee, adding acres onto crops. Farmers and certifiers and inspectors can work together to get mass balancing. Can you get into mass balance easily if you see what a farmers is selling on their cert?

Ken: Yes, on several layers. As a buyer to make sure that in lean years that that balance is correct – not bringing in non-organic grain into organic contract. In strong years that we are looking at now, in some cases early organic contracts ae consummated below normal organic price all of a sudden we are having crop failure. It would b good to have a way to check that. It would be a good business tool on both supply and demand side.

Nate: Often farmers don’t have just one buyer. In world of rain commodities it seems like growers sell to more than one buyer and also buyers can buy a significant amount of the production. Being able to spot check when the the math works out – is that useful? Being able to crowd source concern?

Ken: Yes – you have to be careful how you do hat. We know that as Nate brought up, our domestic house has issues too. We need to make sure there are checks and balances. The system needs to work cooperatively. The label from domestic and imports sides needs to be true. The single biggest risk of the value of the USDA organic label is loss of that trust.

Emily Brown Rosen, Organic Research Associates, MS: DTO
Comment pending.

Brian: I have been struggling with the differentiation between inert vs active ingredient. In this case, there are research articles showing that Distilled Tall Oil does have insecticidal efficacy. Does it make a difference if it is called an inert? Second, the rates that are in the petition are relatively low rates and maybe below what we think of as active ingredient rates, but yet, inerts can be up to 99% of a product. If a petition says it is only used at a certain rate, like 20%, would manufacturers be held to that?

EBR: I do not know that it matters a lot if it is called inert or active, because they do have both properties. EPA has allowed it to be called inert, which means it’s not on the label, which makes it harder for farmers to know it is there. If they felt it was really an active ingredient that didn’t qualify as an inert, it would have to be on the label. If someone wanted to formulate it and EPA decided it was an active ingredient, then it would have to be on the label. It is EPA’s call. USDA doesn’t have a lot to say in this. You really need to work within the framework of EPA. In some ways it doesn’t matter, but it might protect organic to call it inert, but then you need real rules and regulations around inerts, which is where the problem lies. If we go forward with case-by-case review and also have all of this still sitting out there, it is going to be a very inconsistent list, and you might see some decisions that are fair and others that are not so fair. I’m really hoping NOSB can work with NOP to work with this AMPR to ensure that everyone is following the same rules.

Brian: Thanks. We may rely more on your expertise as we try to weave through this.

Maddie Kempner, Vermont Organic Farmers
Comment pending.

Policy Director.

Maddie: If we ignore living soil as a foundation it goes against the foundation principles and in some senses makes those foundational principles meaningless.

Margaret Scoles, IOIA
Comment pending.

Nate: Comment: oftentimes we focus on what’s going wrong in our industry and there is a lot going right. Exciting moment to see the human capitol work already making an impact.

Dilip: African American farmers; are there more getting inspector training and does this seem like a good sign?

Margaret: Very good sign.

Liz: Curious to know; you received funding rom NOP. How long is the funding for?

Margaret: Just a one-year project that finishes in September. THis year we are developing a toolkit for apprenticeship. We are getting evaluations on how to improve the toolkit.

Liz: How would you do this next year without funding?

Margaret: There would need to be gov’t support. It’s very expensive to have an apprenticeship training. This type of training is a very viable learning option. We are investigating partnering with university’s and working with Certification agencies would likely pay part of the cost to put new inspectors through the program.

Kristopher Klokkenga

My name is Kristopher Klokkenga… located in central IL. Organic farmer. Wanted to speak regarding the regulations for importing organic grain from other countries. I worked in Ghana weSt africa from 2008-2016 prrocessing shea nuts and grew corn for 4 years there. I want to speak to the integrity of grain from those countries. It can be… I didn’t work in organic while I was there. The integrity practiced in developing countries can be questionable. In regards to being able to have markets. Since I am in Central IL, robust crop rotation, corn, beans, alfalfa, oats, and when it comes to marketing small grains, though they help with rotation and soil health. When we bring in cgrain from other countries it hinders the domestic organic farmer. If you’re goig to have regs for the internet, have it forimporting grain and for domestic end users. Delivery, traceabiity, BOL, how are those being used and traced through the process? I want to thank you for your time and take any questions. Also reiterate that its necessary to have those regs in place.

Amy: thanks for your time today, really appreciate it on integrity and market viability. You mentioned BOLs… have you seen on your reconciliation form or settlement sheet any indication of your lot number?

In my settlement sheets I hae not seen that. 3 or 4 end users. Outside of my BOL, I’m not sure… No.

Amy: We’ll be talking about that in our board meeting.

Kim: Hi, thank you for your comments. Follow up. Does your ACA reconcile your acres on an annual basis.

Chris: Yes. Mass balance has to be calculated after I provide my settlement sheets. yes, my CB requires all of that. From the settlement sheets there’s no place you’ll see my BOL number.

Nate: So you have your settlement sheets and BOLs, but there’s not a connector between them.

Chris: Other than my name, contract number, load number. Dates would match up. 2 in a day, you could see that.

Dilip: Thank you. We have been hearing a lot about fraud, organic vs. Conventional. Do you know or have any tools from your certifier to test or ID conventional… there are some tools which you can use to detect GE and GM and other contaminates. Are you aware of any?

Chris: I am not. The only way I am aware… if my neighbor grew non GMO soybeans I don’t know that anyone could differentiate. Maybe something else exists.

Kim: You mentioned about growing crop to feed the soil and the systemic nature of your rotation. The livestock group, as part of our resesrch priorities… corn and soy are the backbone to feeding livestock in the US. We know that to create the holistic system, other grains, legumes, need to be introduced, but always the hindrance from a marketing standpoint. Can you elaborate on hindrances or resources to help market small grains?

Chris: This wa smy first year growing alfalfa. To introduce a different hormone in the soil to help control weeds. Oats as a nurse crop then alfalfa. I have not been able to market alfalfa organically because i am in a livestock defecit area. 120 miles to St. Louis… using website to market product. Don’t really have a connection. Barley. This year, first time growing that. We will reach out to seed dealer to figure out where to go with that. The oats I am growing… not growing organic oats because seed company just wants me to grow oats for them. I just sell it to them as a nonorganic oat, even though it’s produced organically.

Kim: this is high on my radar. Thank you for your time.

Javier: Thank you. I feel there is no method being utilized to ID where the fraud is happening. As a grower I hear this subject a lot. Do you have an example? Testing? It seems like paperwork has a greater chance to be falsified. To be creative with. How can this board make things easier to ID.

Chris: There’s not one great idea I can give you. Some way to require each person… corn tortilla manufacturer. Might be able to streamline that process producer… middle person… end user. Streamline the process. Find more of a helpful way using technology to do that.