DAY 1: APRIL 23, 2024

Liz Bell – Organic Valley (LS, CACS, General)

I work to advocate for and consult our 1600 farmer members. OV believes that holistic animal care is essential in organic livestock management. OV, Stonyfield, and Arora petitioned to add Meloxicam to be added to the National List (NL). It would be used to help with animal pain. We believe with the addition of this material, it would be regarded that organic is in tune with animal welfare.

Support to relist DL methionine on the NL. We support additional research to encourage more commercially available alternatives and believe it should be at the top of the list.

We celebrate the Origin of Livestock (OOL) and have seen numerous good impacts of that rule with those transitioning to organic.

Regarding SOE, we have seen some early sticking points. First, those that were previously not certified but need to be now. I hope to encourage there be grace given to these suppliers that work to get certified. It would seem that the rules were meant to be for materials being received, not those that are produced on farm. It seems unreasonable to require a sign be added to the outside of a producer’s cement silo, and this does not appear to be sound or sensible.

Kyla Smith: I do not have a question, but wanted to say that ACA is fully aware of the nonretail container labeling discrepancies, and will be forming a working group to address this.

Ellie Hudson – Accredited Certifiers Association (ACA), Executive Dir. CACS; (General)

[Note that this commentor provided Cornucopia with their comments in full.]

We are a nonprofit educational organization and our mission is to ensure consistent interpretation of USDA Organic Regulations through collaboration and education of accredited certification agencies. Our membership includes 64 certification agencies that are accredited by the USDA, including yours, of course, and an ever-growing community of non-certifier associate member companies that support ACA’s mission.

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments to the NOSB and the National Organic Program.

In addition to the written comments previously submitted and on behalf of these members, we are pleased to offer comment on the following topics: Certifier working environment, market development, and online comments.

ACA is coming out of our season of in-person and online conferences for certifiers, which happen annually between January and April. One theme that emerged repeatedly in the dialogue at these events was stress and fatigue around the continued intense pressure in certifier working environments, with ever-increasing complexity and additional steps required to carry out the work of certification.

ACA and our members are fully committed to organic integrity as a regulatory instrument and to the movement of organic. A serious human capital shortage and changes brought about by the Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule continue to place the most pressure on certifiers. Working in an environment under this level of pressure is not sustainable. ACA is committed to being a voice in partnership with the Board and the National Organic Program to seek and find areas for addition by subtraction toward capacity building and protecting organic integrity. ACA will continue our work on identifying ways to move further toward a risk-based certification system. We envision a system that reduces record-keeping-burdens-and-redundancies, eliminates or reduces unnecessary barriers to certification, and enables organic to more effectively reach marginalized communities.

Market development.

In reviewing the two rounds of awards for the Organic Market Development Grants, ACA was pleased to see funding for various regional efforts to educate consumers. We need to grow this effort at a national level, as we continue to fall short of a cohesive and consistent educational effort to tell the great story of organic. Should the Board take up this topic in the future, ACA will commit to partnering within that effort.

Finally, ACA thanks the Board and the NOP for the opportunity to offer these comments online. ACA supports the online comments and the unique benefits of using this medium, which from our perspective are the ease of decorum, efficiency, and the ability to participate without having to travel. We hope to see the online option for oral comments continue. If a web-based oral comment option is available, ACA will participate this way for the foreseeable future.

And with that, thank you again and see you next week.

Bruch: You mentioned there are 64 groups in ACA, what % of certifiers is that?

Hudson: 96% and all but 10 of the certifiers.

Bruch: SOE and more defined grower group issues. Is there future outreach to get them involved with ACA so they can be involved with integrity?

Hudson: Yes this is on our radar. We are working on a gap analysis as a starting point. Kyla is often in these conversations. We have also been looking at similarities between EU regulation and

Kyla Smith: I saw in public comments a request to pull back the TR template back to subcommittee so ACA can provide additional comments.

Hudson: Marni Karlin is better positioned to speak on this issue.

Amy Bruch: Macro question: lots of comments about pulling documents back. Was the open docket something we could leverage so we can keep things going in the interim?

Hudson: Yes that would be good.

Amy Bruch: We will try and get that going on our end.

Scott Myers – Woodlyn Acres Farm (General)

Dalton, Ohio. Appreciates commenting virtually. ROP certified. 4th generation family farm. 8th year certified organic. Supports residue testing – imports have reduced prices. Due to huge increase in sunflower imports, we can’t raise them now b/c get 50% of price as two years ago. Hard to say if imports are truly organic. Should be tested before entering US marketing channels. Knows a corn buyer that tests every load for GMO content. All imported grains should be tested.

I would like to speak about crop insurance related to organic farming. I would like to see it reformed so that it works better for organic farmers. During conventional production, our farm carried this for 28 years and it saved our farm many times. When I switched to organic farming, I was shocked to find that it did not work for organic farming. A farmer needs 5 years data from each crop production unit (crop), and with our long crop rotation, it could take 35 years to get those 5 years of data, making it almost impossible for us to benefit from crop insurance.

Brian: Struggling to figure out why there isn’t more organic production in the U.S. and wondering the biggest barrier to increasing domestic production – financial or other barriers?

Scott: Couple issues – financial one of them. Bank we finance through b/c they don’t have a lot of data we have to pay more in interest b/c higher risk farm. Another is fact that conventional farming is easy and plant and go to Florida and then harvest. Education is another thing – have a lot of organic farming neighbors and have mentors, so it’s neat to have than in Ohio. As became organic and see can be done successfully, they have decided to transition.

Amy: Thank you for joining. You touched on a lot of topics that are important to farmers in Midwest and country. You mentioned and quantified the impact of pricing on sunflowers, and that they are not cost effective to grow. Unfortunate. Can you talk about other crops you grow and decrease in prices you’ve seen?

Scott: Soybeans have obviously been priced in half than few years ago, but come down substantially. Corn, 11.50/12 dollars a bushel is sustainable. Down to around $7 bushel. We get paid higher b/c we don’t have to ship as far. Wheat – soft red winter wheat price crashed. One thing that keeps farmers away from transitioning, worried setting farmers up to fail if prices aren’t reasonable.

Amy Bruch: Thank you for commenting on that. There was a written comment that said that organic corn was approximately 30% more to grow than conventional. Do you see that?

Scott: We probably aren’t that high, as we have access to manure next to us. On corn, we might have been 20% higher, but with soybeans, we might have actually been a bit lower, due to their chemical costs.

Kim: My question is around logistics and market outlets. Can you talk about the fortunate space that you’re in, but can you talk about the challenges due to fragmented logistics and buyer potentials?

Scott: we’re fortunate most of our corn goes to the east coast so we aren’t that far. Alot staying local. Friends out in Illionois and Indiana even have trouble finding trucking. We went to hauling our own grain b/c we couldn’t find reasonable trucking and we’re doing it for half of what they were going to charge.

Amy Colfer – True Organic Products (CACS; HS; MS)

TOP is leader in organic fertilizers and other products. As organic input supplier and manufacture we know that these inputs have contact with food. Compost is an important amendment: long term compose use improves soil organic matter. Many benefits including reducing pollution risks. In the early days

Processed manure products should not contain too much coliform or salmonella, but not “none”. Food safety has been accessed by industry, and the acceptance criteria are much different than these original levels set for organic. We believe the thresholds are unacceptably high rates and ask NOSB to accept better standards based on California Produce group, including acceptance criteria for compost in organic.

Pesticides contaminate the food supply. The concept of organic food being safer than conventional food is powerful. A major step would be accepting better food safety requirements.

Michael Deakinn – Deakin Farms (CACS)

Organic producer on 3k acres in MT. 4th generation farmer who started in UT, on a farm certified in ‘94. Wanted to talk about the overlap between NRCS programs and the NOP. Realized as a farmer when reading stuff coming out on national level for NRCS, especially EQIP initiatives – get excited about it. But I feel there is a disconnect with what the national level has set aside and what we see when we go to our county offices. My worry is the end of the program because “people were not interested.” Issues we are running into: organic transition initiate – there isn’t enough outreach on the local level. By the time they had the info the application period had already passed. There are only certain practices that are touted, like 823 organic management. That works great in Midwest or irritated. It does not work well in dryland management like in MT. We can keep living roots in the soil but it’s almost impossible to follow as the practice has been set out. The problem is people can get excited about it but it’s not practical for them. In MT we only have $200k for the entire year for the state for EQUIP. Not enough for the entire state.

Nate Powell-Palm: You are farming in NC Montana, and it’s working, and you’re raising food that everyone ones. It sounds like you are doing food in NC Montana, but 823 wasn’t really written in a context base. We need to get NRCS to think about how organic works in these locations that aren’t necessarily PA or Colorado.

We can do all of that stuff, but the specific of practices in 823, such as growing cover crops to get 1T of biomatter above the ground every year, that’s something that we aren’t able to do because we do not have the growing season for it.

Nate Powell-Palm: You mentioned going into your office and they not knowing what 823 was. Di you think that we just need to train NRCS folks better to know what organic is, or do you think that your office knows what organic is?

Michael: I think they by and large are willing to help and understand organic. However, I feel their hands are tied based on programs being handed down to them. They need a program that can be implemented successfully in Montana and info on how to implement it.

Amy: Thanks for bringing up the EQUIP 823 program. Need to make sure producers can benefit. It’s transformation b/c delivers 100s of dollars an acre for transitioning farmers. This 823, we need help to get it in hands of producers. Do you know of any producers awarded Equip 823 to put in action?

Michael: I do not. Actually, when I went into my local office and ask about it, the soil conservationist there said that they had been told that they should discourage people from applying for 823 because we do not believe that it is able to be successfully followed in MT. I would be interested in it, and I know others who would be, but when you get down the specifics, I do not think it is able to be followed in MT.

Seth Kroeck – Crystal Spring Farm (General)
[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

My name is Seth Kroeck and for the last 20 years I have grown certified organic vegetables and wild blueberries at Crystal Spring Farm in Brunswick Maine. Currently I serve on the board of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the Organic Farmers Association Policy Committee, the OFA Crop Insurance Workgroup and am a TOPP mentor farmer.

Thank you for your service on the board and for the chance to speak today. I appreciate the opportunity to comment virtually during the busy spring season.

My farm is almost 200 certified acres and has been tilled since colonial times and our wild blueberry crop was tended by indigenous farmers for an unknowable period before that.

Our fields are surrounded by forest and broken up by perennial plantings that shelter and host a wide range of species beneficial to both our crops and the wider ecosystem that the farm and my family are an integral part of. Because of careful rotations our soils host a diversity of organisms large and small that dwarf the number we can see above its surface.

The farm produces for the wholesale market. We wash, grade, store and package our produce and then send it off into the world of retail grocery. The vast majority of my customers, the people that enjoy a crisp sweet carrot or a tart deep purple blueberry, will never have the chance to visit my farm or ask me questions about how I grow the food they feed their families. What they can do is use the organic seal to choose a product that they can trust.

In the twenty years I have been a certified grower there has been unprecedented consolidation in retail grocery. Small local chains are gone, large regional chains are still around in name only, having been absorbed by four publicly traded behemoths. This consolidation has continued onto the shelves as produce departments are dominated by private label items and a handful of corporate brands that use their market dominance to crowd out local and regional production and distribution.

Unfortunately, consolidation in the market has gone hand in hand with distortion or outright defiance of organic standards. Several large brands shop for organic certifiers that allow their input focused production and move production to cheaper labor markets abroad where certification lacks redundancy or in some cases, integrity.

The current lack of enforcement around hydroponics and aeroponics is a leading issue for the farmers that are members fo the organic farmers association year after year and while growing techniques are technological wonders, they are not organic and when they are allowed to display the USDA Organic seal while controlling the majority of a grocery category it is a crime.

I have spent more than half of my life learning how to farm. I hope continue to do my job. I ask that you defend the standards so that I can. Thank you.

Nate Powell Palm: Appreciate what you said about retailers and consolidation and any ideas for how we can empower independent retailers to tell the story about organic. Some don’t know how to see organic as a selling point.

Seth: Retailers we’ve had success with are the ones we create personal relationships with and convey relationships to customers. Spent time in stores doing tastings and talking to customers. Try to have produce buyers out at farm. Understanding organic has been difficult to education public on but idea that we are trying to grow in concert with the environment is sometimes lost. Where we can bridge connection b/w growers and buyer and getting public out to farms is something we’ve have some limited success with locally.

Allison: I share concerns about consolidation. Curious if have thoughts about what Board can do to be helpful. Something around disparities around farm and consumer pricing? What can we do?

Seth: I think trying to highlight that consolidation seems to be running parallel with direct or indirect with push against organic standards. In your service to Board, the more you can look at the standards and why we have them and take changes and challenges and look at through that lens to protect smaller growers who produce in concert with ecosystems – it’s complicated, it isn’t easy, but foundation of organic movement is trying to do something complex and working with nature.

Terry Shistar – Beyond Pesticides (Misc)
[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

My name is Terry Shistar, and I’m on the board of directors of Beyond Pesticides. We have submitted comments on almost all the issues before the board. You are condemned to again hear me talk about so-called “inert” ingredients. More details are in our written comments and in our 2017 report “Inert” Ingredients in Organic Production.

NOP has repeatedly tried to divert our attention from the crucial issue—one that has threatened the integrity of organic products for more than 20 years and continues to do so. The question that must be addressed is not whether these potentially toxic inputs should be individually evaluated, but how to do it. The evaluation of individual so-called “inert” synthetic ingredients in products used in organic production is not optional. It is required by law. NOP must allocate resources for this project.

Because of the NOSB’s intensive review of active ingredients and the lack of oversight over other ingredients, the so-called “inert” ingredients pose greater risks than the active ingredients.

“Inert” ingredients make up the largest part of most pesticide products. Here are some examples.

And “inert” ingredients are not generally listed on pesticide labels, so NOP and the NOSB have been allowing unknown toxic mixtures to be applied to organic crops and livestock.

On to the real issue… how to deal with “inerts”… First, identify the materials needing review. Second, pass a binding recommendation that will require USDA to act. Third, establish a review process.

We estimate that there are 137 synthetic “inerts” currently used in organic production that must be evaluated. NOP must immediately publish the known list with a request that registrants of products approved for use in organic production notify NOP of the “inert” ingredients contained in their products.
We propose that the NOSB first insist on the publication of that list. The NOSB has undisputed authority over allowed synthetics in organic production and should not shy away from taking a strong position.

Second, we have proposed substitute language for these substances on the National List, establishing a timetable for sunsets. Here we list categories of substances as previously determined by the “Inerts” Working Group, but more details are in our written comments. The exact assignment of “inert” ingredients to the review groups can, of course, be adjusted to meet the convenience of the NOSB and contracted reviewers. This substitute listing should be approved at the Fall 2024 meeting.

Details of the review process can be worked out while the system is grinding away at the earlier steps. The time to act is now.

Amy: Appreciate you elaboration on the strong position to review inerts. What are your thoughts on our equivalency partners that do not have a process to receive products that have not had as stringent of results.

Terry: I admit that I do not understand how the equivalency process is working. It seems to me that we do not always require of other countries what we require here, so I do not think that I cannot really understand that question.

Amy: No problem. I might ask someone else, but if you have a thought in the future, please reach out and let us know.

Nate: I do not feel condemned to hear your comments. Appreciate your BPs clear comments. My question is related to LS sunsets that you submitted. Iodine for teat dips – you recommend using the language alcohol phenol ethoxylates. Is that what we call NPEs as an umbrella term?

Terry: NPEs are a subclass of alcohol phenol ethoxylates.

Nate: So, NPEs are a subclass of APEs?

Terry: Yes.

Methionine. I see you support vitamins and minerals when feed and forage is not sufficient for animal health. Why don’t you support that for methionine?

Terry: It’s a synthetic amino acid, so it does not fit under vitamins and minerals. I think that we would support something with a similar annotation for methionine, but I think it’s being used more broadly and used to industrialize the poultry industry.

Julia Barton – Organic Farmers Association (General)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

Good afternoon, my name is julia barton with the Organic Farmers Association. I’d like to share comments today on 3 topics.

First: Farmer Participation in NOSB

Thank you for including both virtual and in-person comments in this meeting. You have already heard from some OFA farmer members and you will continue to hear from more. This way of handling comments offers an opportunity for various types of interactions, stakeholder input, and community building. OFA farmers are very clear that we need both types of commenting. More opportunities for communication are better. Thank you for holding time and space for this important part of the public process.

I also wanted to note that Linda Halley, long-time organic farmer was going to be with you to comment in Milwaukee on Monday. Linda was the most active member of our NOSB workgroup. She has had some health issues come up that will prevent her from being with you that day, but we will get her comments to Michelle via email and will be sharing them on OFA social media, so please follow OFA to hear from Linda, organic farmer of over 30 years. This will be her first comment to the board.

Next: Hydroponics and Containers

OFA is part of a working group of certification, education, and policy organizations who agree that soil is the foundation of organic agriculture.

OFA farmer members are very clear that hydroponics is not settled issue. We urge the board to call for a moratorium on the certification of new hydroponic operations, and crops grown to maturity in containers until we can utilize our existing NOSB and rulemaking process to move forward with greater consistency. Please activate the latent agenda item “Field and Greenhouse Container Production.”

Finally: Crop Insurance

OFA appreciates the board’s work on this important topic. OFA farmer-members have a wide range of experiences with crop insurance and are eager to make crop insurance more fair, functional, and informed for organic farmers and all farmers. You’ve heard from two of our working group’s very active members and you’ll meet Noah Wendt, if you don’t already know him, in Milwaukee. If you have any specific items our group can workshop, we’d be happy to help in that way, and we’d also be happy to respond to any questions you have on our comments.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment, for your time, and for your service.

Mike Menes – True Organic Products, Inc (CACS)

My name is Mike Menes. I am the CTO at True Organic Products. Thank you to the NOSB for your tireless efforts in Organic. The work you do continues to have a great impact on the foundation of Organic. Let me start by quickly mentioning that I have submitted a petition to Re-Classify Ammonia Extract. We are requesting to take a deeper look at Ammonia Extract as a synthetic. But the focus of my comment today is not on this but on the Oversight to Deter Fraud: Residue Testing for Global Supply Chain Discussion Document. Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this. I’ve been working at True for 15 years. Our mission is to “Make Organics Work for a Better World”. Since day one, I have had Organic Integrity be a priority. Historically, we’ve been actively participating in efforts to deter fraud throughout the supply chain. In fact it is the motivation behind our name: True Organic Products. Early on, I was always curious about what the criteria AND associated testing was for determining if a tomato, for example, was grown organically. The understanding was that testing was limited only to pesticide residues and was done with some regularity. We submit to you that it is all prohibited substances and not just pesticides. All of this is in my written comment and I did want to make sure that I made 3 distinct requests for clarification and guidance: 1. Certifying Agents already have the authority (205.670) to test for prohibited materials, and it is not limited to pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and GMOs. It is all prohibited materials. a. Request: Clarify that certifying agents have the authority to test for any prohibited substances. 2. Certifying agents have the authority (205.670(c)) to test agricultural inputs like they would with soil, water and seeds. This intent would be to ensure that organic grower’s entire systems are operating in compliance with organic regulations. a. Request: clarify that Ag Inputs and Ag products sold as organic can be tested by certifying agents 3. Material Review Organizations would also have the same authority to test (NOP Guidance 5012) a. Request: Same as 2 but applied to MROs We’ve answered some of the questions you requested in our written document and focused on questions 1, 2 and 3. We provide a few examples and propose a flow diagram for your review. With your guidance and clarification certifiers and MROs can prevent prohibited substances from entering the Organic supply chain and deter the occurrence of fraud. We believe this work can help strengthen Organic integrity and protect the USDA Organic seal. Thank you.

Amy: You mentioned in your written comments that there are only a couple of certified MROs that are certified to ISO standards. When we are looking at this, we are looking at it from a global stance. Do you have any idea on how we can deal with this internationally? I am curious about the global perspective for input testing.

Mike: Look at all the certifiers that are doing that and partnering up with MROs that are doing that and giving them more authority. The policy aspect of partnering up with certifiers that work globally and the laboratories.

Amy: Seems several international certifiers that are not part of ACA, but internationally certifiers are bearing a lot of materials review and thinking how input testing can be done internationally.

Mike: It wasn’t ISO 2200, but ISO 1702.

Nate: Residue sampling partner here with Amy. I appreciate you acknowledging that certifiers have the authority to test inputs, not only pesticides. I think that partly why we are seeing a lot of residue testing is because we have well-established protocols and what we should test for and how we should deal with the results. Do you have any recommendations for this on the input side? What should certifiers be testing for? Synthetic nitrogen? What kind of tests are available for certifiers?

Mike: 2 different perspectives. Food/produce and Ag input side. On ag input there are sample, inexpensive tests that test for nitrogen and how much of it is made of particular material like ammonia and nitrate tests. If look at derivation statement on label and says derived from protein source then that is primary source of nitrogen content. Can do amino acid residue test that make up proteins and would expect some to be there. There’s a whole plethora of other tests and we proposed a flow diagram in written comment. What do with positives? Enforcement is difficult but being able to understand what’s out there would be helpful initially.

Kyla: In 670B, it talks about testing of ag inputs or products, but there is also section C…

Mike: I think that needs to be explored further. Our comments did focus a lot on the B portion of it, but we did focus a bit on the C. I do think this needs to be explored a bit further. Similar to this, is the question of whether or not there is a possibility for things to come into contact with this and cross-contamination.

Abby Youngblood – National Organic Coalition (CACS; MS; General)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

Hello – thank you Board for your work and this opportunity to comment. I’m Abby Youngblood, executive director at the National Organic Coalition or NOC.

The past several years have been pivotal for the organic community. Together, we closed loopholes for the most pressing organic integrity issues. With the Origin of Livestock, Strengthening Organic Enforcement, and Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards rules across the finish line, NOC is now considering how to prioritize future work.

Looking forward, three of our top priorities include the ‘omnibus nitrogen proposed rule’, increasing organic seed usage, and creating consistency for greenhouses, containers, and hydroponic systems.

On the nitrogen rule – the NOSB has already passed unanimous or near-unanimous recommendations to limit high nitrogen, non-synthetic fertilizers. The National Organic Program has taken the step of consulting with the EPA, but after nearly a year, there is still no EPA response. As time passes, this new regulation will become much more difficult to adopt. We ask that you please use your influence to urge USDA to move forward with this rule.

On organic seed, we are dismayed that organic seed usage has stagnated – there has been no meaningful improvement in the use of organic seed over the past five years, and NOSB recommendations from 2018 and 2019 were never fully implemented. In the meantime, new challenges have emerged – USDA has determined that the use of CRISPR genetic manipulation does not have to be identified to end users. Organic growers may not realize that some of the conventional seeds they are using have been genetically altered using an excluded method. The NOSB should take up this topic.

On greenhouses, containers, and hydroponic systems – these production methods continue to proliferate, and we are concerned about the lack of standards and large inconsistencies from one certifier to the next. We urge you to add standards for these systems to your workplan.

In the last bit of time that remains, I want to highlight two topics that relate to excluded methods:

First, NOC fully supports the technical review template update, which will help fill gaps in information that were not covered in the prior TR template. The additional questions on excluded methods are very important.

For the handling subcommittee, I’d like to draw your attention to NOC’s detailed comments on the numerous issues related to products of fermentation. One issue is that several products of fermentation that are on the National List may be made using genetically engineered (GE) organisms or GE substrates. There is no clarity as to how fermentation should be reviewed with respect to excluded methods. We need a clear policy that the Board and certifiers can follow in reviewing substances. We request that you add this to your work plan.

We hope you will continue to lean on the expertise within NOC’s membership to keep moving your work forward. Thank you.

Amy: Question about the seed comment – when we look at expanding organic seed usage. What is your stance on that from an international perspective? I believe that when we talked in previous public comments, we do not have that much data on international use of organic seed. Are we setting ourselves up for higher standards in the US versus overseas if we push on this?

Abby: Good question for Kat McClesky b/c Organic Seed Alliance has looked at international context. EU serves as a model for U.S. to encourage greater organic seed usage. One of the things we need to do in U.S. is if determine sufficient quality and quantity we need to require organic seed usage. Been done in other parts of the world and we have a lot to learn. Valid question about how our regulations compare to others and think Kat is in better position to answer.

Amy Bruch: In your written comments you highlighted the barriers to org certification, and that NOSB should take up some of those items to remove those barriers. Some producers have commented on barriers to retention of organic growers that are talking about the pressure of imports and supply.

Abby: That graphic that you mentioned is in the slide deck of my colleague, Alice Runde. I want to pick up on a theme that I heard from producers who have already spoken, which is the organic integrity piece. I know that we lost a ton of organic dairy producers due to the lack of the OOL rule. Having a system where we can fix those issues faster is essential. We understand that the regulatory system isn’t going to move at the speed of light, but we need one that can be more nimble. In the organic grain sector, the act of timely action to address fraudulent imports faster is critical.

Mindee: Thinking about comment about Crispr and transparency. If NOSB is making recommendations on excluded methods and not moving forward wondering if you had big picture thoughts and how to move forward and how it dovetails into TR template. If no movement and resistance to asking the question, what is the next lever for us and what do you think about big picture thinking on excluded methods.

Abby: Hard question. I think that on the piece of asking the question or not asking the question, NOC believes that we have to ask the question. We cannot stick our head in the sand. You’ve seen us on a variety of issues from inerts to excluded methods. You’ve heard our full support for knowing where excluded methods are popping up. In terms of getting movement from USDA, I think it’s time to open up some conversation again about if guidance to codify NOSB recommendations – I think we need to have a more serious conversation about the variability of that as a path forward. Different administrations view guidance differently and what you can do with guidance. I think, as you are aware, there is a right moment and a not right moment to push these things forward. I think we have to consider that to get recommendations codified. Let’s keep talking.

Kristopher Klokkenga – organic producer (CACS)

4th generation farmer based in IL. My family and I – have extensive work in Ghana West Africa and have worked in processing plant there. We needed to figure out a way to come back and farm. We transitioned to organic. We now grow more than just corn and soybeans. Important are threatening organic farmer viability. Our price of soybeans is nearing price of production. The work CACS is invaluable to expand organic markets and improve organic crop insurance. But we need to be testing all imported grains to ensure there is a level playing field. With my experience in West Africa I sourced imports from places that say they are exporting organic soybeans and from my boot on the ground experience it is very unlikely that is happening. Soybean, in order for it to be produced by average person in Ghana it would have to be processed, It’s just not likely true organic is happening. We want to continue to succeed and do our part to strengthen the industry and our farm.

Amy: You said that you had experience farming in Ghana, and that’s tropical environment. Can you talk about the yields and quantity of growing crops in a tropical environment?

Kristopher: I had a farm on a lake in Ghana, 40 acre center pivot, 2 rainy seasons in Ghana. The issue with yields – yielding 120 bushels in corn whereas in U.S. somewhere around 250 bushels – not an organic process. In tropical climate struggling with disease and pests. Pests and disease and if have them, then how do you treat them. Ag sector isn’t robust enough to handle that.

Lillian Hawkins – Organic Farmers Association (General)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. My name is Lily Hawkins, I am the Policy Director of the Organic Farmers Association.

Today I’ll be speaking on a few big-picture issues and suggested agenda items that have been raised by our farmer-members.


OFA is grateful for the board’s efforts to address racial equity within organic. We encourage the board to keep thinking about how the USDA Equity Commission’s report findings can become part of the NOSB and NOP’s processes, possibly by making this a work agenda item. Institutionalizing equity through strategic outreach, board trainings, and a racial equity lens incorporated into all committee work is necessary for organic to move forward.


Organic is a global movement, and organic farmers deserve to be operating in an equitable marketplace under the organic label.

OFA supports the idea of testing imports to verify organic integrity – covered in depth by other speakers today.

Furthermore, as the U.S. organic regulatory system benefits from consistency of interpretation and application, the international organic movement benefits from increased consistency across national organic programs.

There are a few materials in which there is a lack of consistent practice in the U.S. system, which conflicts with our trade partners, organic neighbors, IFOAM interpretations, and CODEX regulations.

We appreciate the Board’s attention to this matter when reviewing each material, and OFA agrees that we should bring our standards into greater alignment with the global organic movement.


OFA is very grateful for the effort it took to bring the SOE rule to the point of implementation. At the same time, we have concerns about low-risk organic operations being burdened by the increased scrutiny and oversight, and certifiers implementing the rule inconsistently across the nation.

Our NOSB workgroup noted that the paperwork for feedstock for livestock, and for mixed vegetables were more burdensome this year. In some cases, we have heard of the OSP length doubling from 2023 to 2024.

We understand that the intention of the SOE was not to increase the paperwork burden for low-risk organic operations, and we request that the NOP, during their certifier accreditation audits, review the changes made to the OSP, with a critical eye to the enhanced paperwork and activities required of low-risk, small and mid-scale short supply chain operations. We want SOE to focus where it was intended.

We also encourage the NOP to support dialogue amongst certifiers to define low-risk and high-risk, and provide guidance so that certifiers can administer the standards with the security of NOP alignment on risk assessment. And put the increased scrutiny where it is most needed and reducing burden on low-risk operations.


In OFA’s annual policy survey, farmers noted the need for NOSB to review the 90/120 day rule as it applies to agroforestry production systems in which livestock graze under fruit and nut trees. Please consider creating an agenda item to address this request.

Kyla: NOP has been addressing risk-based approach with certifiers.

Mindee: In your written comments, you commented on post-consumer garbage as far as compost is concerned, and that good compost is being made. Can you comment on that and what you mean? Where is the line from your perspective on feedstock and contamination?

Lilly: Our comments are a group effort, so other speakers from OFA might be able to address this later. My understanding is that there is a risk from post-consumer waste getting in there – stickers and things – and it just does not have the oversight that the current stream has.

Alan Lewis – Natural Grocers (General)

Natural Grocers, Lakewood, Colorado.

In the world of quality and standards, there is a classic quote that says that quality is the steps you are going to take to get to where you want to be. Want to talk about reverse engineering the NOSB/NOP standards. If you reverse engineer it, it appears that we are going to end up with only a few large suppliers and retailers and maybe a handful of food service wholesalers. We can idolize small producers, but they will not survive without irrigation, processing, and markets. In the broadest sense, the future of organic lies with the global smallholders, often not certified, but doing the hard work in the dirt. While we have to focus on economic gain in the US and not losing our seat in the global organic community. The global organic community continues to move forward on social and economical standards far broader than we do here, and we need to keep an eye on those standards farm more closely than we currently do here.

Mindee: Going to diverge a little bit and doing work of talking to consumer about organic and what GMO means. Still don’t feel comfortable with separation. What does consumer need to really separate organic from non-GMO?

Alan: Market answered that question. Autoimmune and other novel conditions is all being tied back to pesticides and toxic load in the environment. Counter narrative is that medicine will fix those maladies and that is the danger b/c they have megaphones that they can fix problems they created.

Nate: I appreciate how high-level your comments were, but want to talk a bit about logistics. Have heard from the advocacy and nonprofits about integrity and how we prop up the market via integrity. Consolidation in grocery is a multi-billion dollar operation. How do we get more retailers into the game – smaller, more diverse retailers, retailers everywhere?

Alan: There are no small retailers left. There are a few 1,000 of small retailers left that are the backbone of the community. I would further point out that this community has not spoken up to say that Kroger, ??, and ?? Combining is not good for organic. There is no commitment to organic by those companies. We’re not even in the game. I have fought long and hard at the state and national levels to keep Kroger in its place. We’re not even in the game or fighting the right fight.

Nate Powell-Palm: How do we get into the game?

Alan: We’re an economy that is not allowing small retailers to survive.

Nate: do we ask INFRA to get in the room? What should this community do?

Alan: Shop at those stores, for one. Work in your local community with those small, independent retailers. See if other retailers can be created and supported. They will buy organic and create a market for it. Kroger will hang up what is supposedly local producers, but if you talk to those producers, they will say that Kroger has not purchased from them in 10 years. There are only a few 1,000 of the small retailers left. We have allowed this consolidation to gatekeep us small producers out of the market.

Logan: Agree with what you’re saying and I don’t think it’s just unique to organic growers. Consolidation affecting small farmers trying to perform and not be taken advantage of. It is hard to compete and stay in the game. Also for all small farmers, whether conventional or organic. Supporting small retailer is important.

Alan: There is no middle acre farmer anymore.

Mark Kastel – OrganicEye (General)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

I’m speaking to you today from La Farge, Wisconsin.

I wish, like members of Congress, NOSB members were required to take an oath to protect and defend the spirit and letter of the law governing organics. But I’m going to give each and every one of you the benefit of the doubt that that is your goal, placing it over and above corporate profit.

Celery Powder: The use of celery powder is a “synthetic nitrogen delivery system.” Based on how it is bred, grown, and processed, this workaround is intended to deliver the same dangerous compound used as a preservative, albeit under a more innocuous name. The answer to concerns of consumers from some organizations is to develop a certified organic version of celery powder. How incredibly disingenuous. If the research is successful — and I don’t know any professionals who believe it will be (due to the copious amounts of nitrogen fertilizer required, which is unavailable in organically approved forms) — this would equate to developing a “certified organic carcinogen.” As I said, how disingenuous. According to the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry, nitrates in celery powder react with amino acids in the digestive system to create nitrosamines. These are reported to cause: • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma • Cancers of the esophagus, larynx, stomach, bladder, colon, prostate, and thyroid Do you think that sounds like a material that would comply with the law requiring approved substances not be deleterious to human health? The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the World Health Organization, assessed the risk of nitrates and processed meats and classified them as a group 2A “probable carcinogen.” They also state that, in addition to being a likely carcinogen, foods preserved with celery powder may contain even more nitrates and nitrites than foods preserved with synthetically manufactured versions of the same preservatives. I ask this body to err on the side of caution by reviewing the citations in our written comments, including statements from Consumer Reports and the American Cancer Society, before siding with industry lobbyists.

In closing, I’d like to add that we have certifiers violating the law by accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments, over and above certification fees, from some of the agribusinesses they certify (and certifiers are here today lobbying on behalf of their “clients”). We have unregulated material review organizations where, literally, 99% of their revenue comes from commercial entities with interests in materials. It’s imperative that this body act impartially to protect the integrity of the organic label, the health and well-being of organic eaters, and the livelihoods of farmers and ethical business people. Thank you for your time. …

Compost I want to remind members that whatever is in compost will bioaccumulate in the soil and that certain plants are very adept at uptaking those compounds. We’ve already had disasters.

DL Methionine Please understand that, despite the industry telling you that this material is necessary for humane animal husbandry, it is a production tool given to increase egg laying. In terms of feather pecking and other aggressive behaviors towards their flock mates, these problems do not exist on familyscale operations where birds are allowed legitimate access to the outdoors. Unfair competition is preventing those farms from scaling-up. In all the commercial organic broiler operations I have visited, generally with 20,000-30,000 bird buildings, I’ve never seen a single bird outside. We aren’t talking about porches here. Even in most moderate-sized organic laying operations, I’ve never seen more than 1-3% of the birds outside at a given time. We’re not talking about new rulemaking being phased-in. We’re talking about certifiers that are not enforcing the current law and the NOP looking the other way. If the laws were enforced, methionine would not be necessary for the preservation of these birds.

Rebekah Weber – CCOF (General)

Policy Dir at CCOF. Critical issue of farm viability, food system capacity constraints. CCOF has seen a net loss of certified farms in the last year. At the same time CA is defining “regenerative farming” which is both a potential risk and benefit to organic farmers. Represents an opportunity for farmers to provide food to schools, correctional facilities, etc. CA has proposed a broad definition of “regenerative”, we are concerned an overly broad meaning is meaningless. The repercussions of a weak definition are widespread (beyond CA). Organic farmers should not have to compete in a world where regenerative farmers get funding from the state despite not holding a high bar. We ask that the NOSB and stakeholders weight into CA’s process for defining regenerative so that organic is the floor.

Nate Powell-Palm: Could you send Michelle all of the details for how we weigh-in on that process and contribute:

Rebekah: Yes.

Jay Feldman – Beyond Pesticides (General)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

The NOSB was created to play a leadership role in bringing the views of organic consumers and producers, and science-based thinking to bear on USDA, not the reverse. The NOSB, therefore, is critical to a sustainable future—which must be in sync with nature. To this point, we support the notion that organic must be transformational with its practices and allowed substances. In this context the board has before it, critical issues—in the spirit of continuous improvement— that must meet the existential health, biodiversity, and climate challenges of our time. Some high priority issues for this meeting 1. Reject the petition to allow unspecified “compostable materials” in compost allowed in organic production. Synthetic substances in these materials could introduce hazardous contaminants like PFAS and microplastics. Don’t allow organic to get dragged into these escalating crises. 2. Get nonylphenol ethoxylates out of organic. Organic must lead on eliminating surfactants or complexing agents containing nonylphenols (NPs) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), which are strong endocrine disruptors with adverse impacts on organ systems and multigenerational effects. This is where an annotation is needed for iodine. 3. Ensure the quality of the science on which the NOSB decisions are made. The sunset and petition process must not allow the listing of substances without “sufficient scientific information.” We support the change to the Policy and Procedures Manual (PPM) to only allow recommendations with valid scientific information on that material’s impact on the environment, human health and its compatibility with organic. 4. Eliminate nonorganic ingredients in processed organic foods as a part of the sunset review. The materials on §205.606 up for sunset review this year are made from agricultural products that can be supplied organically and thus should be taken off the National List. Now issues critical to organic’s leadership position: • Ensure that so-called “inert” ingredients in the products used in organic production undergo NOSB assessment. The NOSB has passed repeated recommendations instructing the National Organic Program (NOP) to replace the generic listings for “inerts” that may be biologically and chemically active (currently using EPA Lists 3, 4A, and 4B “inerts”), with specific substances approved for use. • Make elimination of plastics in organic a goal and a research priority. Microplastic particles are found in human lungs, blood, feces, breast milk, and placenta. Keep organic in the forefront. Thank you for your service on the NOSB.

Kyla: I saw in BP’s comments about annotating a specific substance as only allowing nonsynthetics. I believe that is something that is on the nonsynthetic list of 605 – would that just be redundant? Do you recall that and can speak to that at all? Possibly calcium chloride?

Jay: Normally we are seeking to differentiate some of these products. 605 should be nonsynthetic so I’ll have to go back and check.

Nate Lewis: I think it might have been around citric acid?

Kyla: I think it was calcium chloride where I made the note.

Dan Langager – Northwest Horticultural Council (CS; HS)

Represent growers, packers, shippers, of cherries. Directs to extensive written comments and feedback on inerts and compost. Appreciate challenges of updated regulations and encourage board to take a scientific approach while not putting availability at risk. Reduction in compost or rise in costs would be tough. Decisions can make a difference about whether to stay in business. Crops and handling – would like to underscore pheromones, parasitic acid, inerts. Horticultural oils. they have a lighter viscosity and provide a safe and consistent level of disease control.

Pheromones are essential to tree fruit production. We strongly support the relisting of pheromones, as their loss would be catastrophic. It is the foundation of apple and pear integrated pest management programs, and enables growers to make fewer applications of pesticides. Inerts in imperative for pesticides.

Peracetic acid – all organic tree fruit packing facilities use this. Does not leave residue on the skin of the fruit. Essential.

Brian: Horticultural oils are petroleum based. Have any of your growers experimented with vegetable oils for same purposes?

Dan: Not aware of but can ask around.

Nate: Regarding compost, one of the things that the subcommittee is working on is the C:N ratio requirements in the standards. We had a couple of commenters say that when you have a really high C:N ratio, it’s more like a mulch, and not as beneficial as a fertility. Do you have any comments on that? Fruit growers look at things differently than crop growers; want to get it all on the table.

Dan: Tree fruit growers will use it either as an amendment or a mulch; I think both are important uses. We did not receive any direct input in terms of the specific ratios. I think that if it leads to an end product that meets the regulations and meets their needs, that is something they support.

Adam Seitz – QAI (HS)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

Good afternoon. My name is Adam Seitz and I serve as a senior technical 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 without a doubt you’ll find the QAI mark well represented on its shelves.

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

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

Classification and Excluded Methods Verification for Handling Substances

Several of the handler substances subject to the current sunset review include questions to stakeholders regarding how certifiers verify classification requirements and the prohibition on excluded methods. See our written comments on this front, but in summation, QAI urges the NOSB to review applicable sections and forms within the Accredited Certifiers Association Best Practices for Common Material Review Issues. QAI’s practices on classification and excluded methods verification are consistent with these certifier best practices.

L-malic Acid – 205.605(a)

As noted in previous comments, QAI does not currently take a deep-dive on L-malic acid classification, as is consistent with ACA Best Practices. QAI simply verifies that the substance is L-malic acid and not DL- or D-malic acid.

Using current guidance from the NOP, QAI considers L-malic acid produced via the two-step process with a synthetic fumaric acid precursor to be synthetic. To QAI, the synthetic fumaric acid is the starting substance in the context of NOP Guidance 5033-1 Decision Tree. This results in a synthetic classification for the L-malic acid.

While QAI supports re-listing L-malic acid at 605(a) for now, it should be added to 605(b) and subsequently removed from 605(a) to reflect the form typically used in organic products.

Nutrient vitamins and minerals

There’s not a lot of time to go over this, so check out our written comments. In short, there is not complete consistency amongst certifiers regarding what substances are permitted in organic products via the 205.605(b) nutrient vitamin and mineral inclusion. This is largely due to the NOP’s previous interpretation regarding accessory nutrients as acknowledged in the January 12, 2012 Proposed Rule (77 FR 1979) and the continued allowance of the QUOTE “status quo” END QUOTE implemented by the subsequent September 27, 2012 Interim Rule (77 FR 59287), which remains in effect. This “Status Quote” is the 2006 NOP interpretation that QOUTE “The NOP determined that accessory nutrients, that are non-agricultural, are allowed in the production of products to be sold, labeled or represented as organic under the NOP; provided, they are used in full compliance with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules and regulations.” END QUOTE Regardless of some discrepancies on what nutrients are permitted, the current 605(b) listing should be renewed.

We thank the NOSB for all its work, commitment, expertise, and for the opportunity to comment.

Allison: Nutrients, Vitamins, and Minerals – this is a tricky one. I dug back through the history that you relayed. This listing has gone through a number of reviews with lots of ideas on what to do with it, but just sits there. Are you aware of any materials that are coming in through that listing that are particularly important to handlers or particularly questionable?

Adam: It’s tricky. Technically, I think a lot of things could squeeze in under the current status quo. In looking at things that are identified in those proposed rules and interim rules, there are a whole lot of metabolites that processors would like to use. I think there are a lot of things that processors would like to use under this disguise, but I think certifiers are savvy in not letting them. Things that are important are things that were reviewed under what was supposed to be the reshuffle – like DHA. Some of the things that were to be used in infant formulas and such. Even some amino acids that we see. We have a tiered approach with these accessory nutrients. For DHA, we enforce what was the NOSB restriction they had voted on. For some things, we are still conservative, such as sole source nutritional products, where this product is the sole source of nutrition for those individuals… Most of the things that were identified in that detailed and proposed rule, I do not think there is anything in addition to those that needs called out specifically.

Nate: Question about discussion about organic avail for 605 materials, specifically citric acid. Need thoughts on whether the “juice is worth the squeeze” — rulemaking is really burdensome. Hearing that there is organic citric acid available, but does commercial availability move the needle enough?

Adam: I think commercially availability in general can move the needles. Not sure it should be applied to citric acid. Lots of folks use it. Doesn’t seem like a lot of citric acid on in the marketplace. Don’t know if it’s worth the squeeze in this instance.

Kyla Smith: Wondering whether or not, ACA didn’t have resources for working group, wanted to know if having additional questions around excluded methods, ancillaries, nano particles, would be welcomed additional info?

Adam: I think it’s helpful info. In ACA best practices look at risk-based approaches. Would be helpful to include that content in TRs to help calibrate full community. We try to be experts in a lot of things, but deep dives are helpful. Kind of have idea that we should keep look out for excluded methods. Confusions on what exactly isn’t permitted or is on nano tech front. If it is included further discussions around engineered nano would be warranted.

Andy Faeh – Organic Farmer (CACS)

Nanotech – exposed to that a week ago. Something that was supposed to be an insect presence, but I don’t know.

Family farm 1400 acres in Nebraska. Use cover crops, growing a variety of diff grains including yellow corn, wheat, beans, etc. Through the years have grown a lot of no-till, which is good for the soil. What is the continued education for the public considering the benefits of organic for the environment and the soil? One concern of mine starting organic was that extra tillage which might harm the soil. But through our practices with lots of tillage and cover crops, or tests have shown over all the different soil tests that we have increased our organic matter 6-70% on every farm we have changed over from chemical farming. It’s important – that information should be made available to the public. The chemical farming is largely misunderstood with how detrimental it is to the soil.

Consumer should be able to purchase organic products that are trusted. We want consumes to trust the organic label so they can live healthier lives. It’s a concern when non-organic products are flooding the organic market in the States.

Brian: Just to be clear, you used to do no-till organic or conventional?

Andy: Organic no-till

Brian: Organic, no-till on large scale?

Andy: More you can spread word around to neighbors and extension people the better off we’ll be. Info about increasing soil organic matter is common experience and more we can share it, the better. When I did research that at Cornell, we took piece of ground that was conventional no-till and after 10 years of organic, we got increases in organic matter content. Reinforcing what you said. Spread the word.

Amy: Two work agenda items: research priorities and looking at building transition support. What’s your best method for new practices and moving needle on soil health?

Andy: basically do You Tube stuff. When I started utilizing the practices and different things that organic farmers are good about getting word out and sharing knowledge and sharing successes and failures of what they tried. I utilize people’s experiences and help other organic farmers are.

Nate Powell-Palm: When I think about getting word about organics, but when talking to farming neighbors or fellow humans, what are the biggest take aways we should be bragging about to get word out about organics?

Andy: Detriment of using chemical and poisoning the soil – is more detrimental than we realize than just to the ecosystem. I know personally on our farm how different it is not using chemicals. I know we aren’t going to reverse chemical use overnight.

Matt Keegan – Keegan Commodities (CACS)

Market participant for close to 20 years, focusing on global supply of grain commodities for animal feed. Fraud, fraud prevention. We want a level playing field: we want to ensure the integrity of what we are supplying. At the end of the day our customers are the consumers. If there is no consumer faith in supply chain then we have a problem. In a lot of ways we are stepping over dollars to pick up dimes. Import fraud is bad, but a lot of fraud in the USA is domestic too. One place finally had certificate fraud after knowingly commit fraud for decades.

We need to put enforcement in place at ports. We just sample when cargo arrives. The amount of cargo that is arriving that has solvent-extracted soybean is very high, exceeding 50%. We are making it too complicated – put it back on the importer.

For my own testing, from getting samples across the united states, and testing it by myself. Even so far as have received sample sent to accredited lab. From supplier to the lab, I touch no part of it, they show solvents. See methanol and acetone. Won’t see hexane. Data was sent to certifier and it did nothing about it. I have seen it through my own testing and other entities. From my perspective, this is a problem. When look at SOE, many people doing these things for years – test, trust and verify. without integrity this industry collapses, but today’s market place, question is do you have organic cert and what’s your price. There is an overabundance, bird flu, and now more supply than demand, and large part of pricing is related to that.

Kimberly: CACS has a document out regarding different testing policies. Any suggestions to manuals that we have questions on. Secondly, as we know, changes take time and hard, what are some things market can do to self-regulate this?

Matt: I think as far as self-regulating, is end-users asking for more transparency. But not necessarily authentic. The intent of end users in wanting transparency is integrity and understanding the supply chain and don’t have best intentions with that. Concern in how transparent many re-sellers want to be – they want to protect their supply chains. I think ways to address that and that gets complicated. Go back to early 2000s when cargo came into US put into FDA hold, and would get a nasty letter about melamine. Lab would come out and not terribly complicated, 3rd party lab would pull samples and submitted so integrity of sample maintained. FDA would reject or release the cargo. That process has already been implemented. Importer should be testing this anyway.

Kim: How long does it take? How long does cargo sit before you get test results?

Matt: Melamine – I have had the US senate ag committee. They have said that it’s an IP issue not a food safety issue. That statement is the crux of it for our govt. Because it’s not food safety it runs on a different path than it would otherwise. You can pay expedite fees. It is days to get testing back – 5 business days conservatively. We should be testing and validating before we feed it anyway. We all want the same things, just start with something simple. And this is very simple.

Mike Appel – Organic Farmer (General)

Three Springs Farm in Oklahoma. Wife was on NOSB for several years and thank you. My comment is short about organic integrity and keeping soil in organic. During Emily’s time on the Board seeing the politics involved and divergence of organics between taking care of land and soil and keep small scale farmer still working the soil in mind. We are still trying to grow healthy food in soil.

Wood: Give Emily our best.

Kim: Thank you for your time and commitment supporting the understanding of what NOSb time takes. Question: Can you tell me more about your farming operations from the perspective of the logistics of moving product off your farm to the place you sell it? And if you have constraints in that regards?

Mike: Since covid we have going to CSA model and predominately sell at Farmers Market. In process of developing an app and driven by consumer choice. We do a delivery once a week. Organic is important but we don’t’ need it for marketing. We still believe in the label.

Nate Powell-Palm: How do we get more young farmers in places like Oklahoma? TOPP, new farmers in general – what was the piece?

Mike: We struggle with b/c when started 20 years ago and asked if more organic farmers in 20 years, I would have said “of course.” Still kind of out here by selves. There is a wave of new small scale vegetable and have chose regenerative or no certification. I don’t understand it and would love to communicate importance of growing organic movement.

Sydni Arnone – International Food Additives Council (HS)

Manager of Market Relations.

Citric and lactic acid are important and relisting supported. Annotation to citric acid – to ensure continuity of market, we do not support addition of annotation. Supports relisting of potassium phosphate and to add letter “s.” Refer to IFAC’s petition.

Wood: Manufacturer provides a statement about excluded methods? What does that mean?

Sydni: effectively an affidavit. Exactly states not produced utilizing any excluded means. I could get a sample of what it looks like.

Brian: citric acid – if there is a commercial availability clause with annotation, then how would it change practice of industry, the point would be to encourage more production of organic citric acid?

Sydni: Certifiers having to prove that percentage every time, less than 1% and very small so every time supposed to prove it.

Sounds like it would just be a little extra effort. Putting it into a little perspective – maybe not a big ask and would push/pull a market that does not have that now.

Johanna Phillips – Strengthening Organic Systems, LLC (CACS; LS; MS; General)

Dir of Business development and technical affairs. Please see submitted comments. Residue testing helps for monitoring and deterrent.

Amy: Residue testing comments are very informative. Trying to balance a lot of public comments and look at guidance documents and possibly including more than pesticide residue. Some say need thought process and some prescriptive. We don’t always know what we don’t know. Where do you lie in recommendation in terms of balancing teaching of knowledge?

Johanna: Prescriptiveness – depends on resources of entity using the resource. Needs to be adequate explanation. Certifier might develop internal policies. Certifiers have opportunity to propose alternatives. Critically missing, is certifiers lean on these to help operations and to guide their approach.

Kim: Question around labs: ability of labs to provide results in a timely fashion. Can you give a lens into timeliness of labs or test results?

Johanna: I’ll qualify to say until Janu was in certification space. See and reviewed hundreds of lab results. Lab timeliness is a non-issue. If understand where would send a sample, and having it properly prepared so lab can accept it, then labs typically turn things around in a timely manner. Not a timeliness issue in terms of getting results. If from producer’s standpoint, there could be delays, but don’t imagine labs give different level of service.

Nate: Appreciate that you know they will flip the test results around fast.

Ron Alexander – R. Alexander Associates, Inc. (compost/composting consulting company) (CS)

Compost consulting and on US Composting Board. Comments on modernizing NOP regulations. Wife and I have worked for listing products through OMRI and CDFA. Reiterate: compost is a staple for industry. Hope the efforts will review products and quality without unduly raising costs to processors and end users. First comment: compost definition within regulations is somewhat outdated. The process info in there is not needed. This is the AFFCO definition – I would suggest the NOSB evaluate. Upfront C;N ratios are somewhat outdated in the regulations. C:N ratios are seen as best management and not requirements at all now. Having alternative sanitizations standards is very important moving forward. It also important to have access to Kraft paper bags. I know the inks need to be looked at. Paper bags are important for feedstock collection and prevent inerts contamination. Horticulturalist and soil scientist: very concerned about synthetic contaminates in compost and feed. But be cautious when developing standards because it can impact product availability.

Nate Lewis: Do you see downside or risk to eliminating the send to end ratio? What’s the con?

Ron: For feedstock – don’t see a great risk. Most people understand need 20/1 or 25/1 ratio. For mulch can be sky high and not be overly deleterious. Front end feed stock is probably old science and can go. Did a lot of work in England, when high CN compost, no nitrogen gets to plant.

Nate: one I’m most concerned about is, fruit sticker – problem in organic compost. How can organic lead in eliminating this waste?

Ron: Most of contamination in industry, is post-consumer materials. Do think some of sticker scare is overblown though it’s mind blowing using these stupid things. Need to make out of nonsynthetic materials. Don’t have a great answer, but if they shrivel up may go through a screen. Seeing people screen and 1/8 and ¼ inch to get clean compost. If it’s wet, can’t screen it that fine. It’s a huge dilemma.

Mindee: read that not generally supportive of BPI petition. is it an infrastructure, screening, or is it concern for how constituents end up?

Ron: synthetic materials in those products and unless exemption, not sure how get around it. In compost industry, these materials are generally screened out. If 3D in nature, it’s hard to get them to compost fast enough. It pains me, but it’s a difficult dilemma.

Brian: In definition you put up, described process but said nothing about inputs.

Ron: Anything – with this definite we tried to be feedstock agnostic. Not trying to pass through any synthetic materials. Just tried to create a defendable definition for AFFCO. The goal is to catch products that are not compost and exclude those.

Brian: The issue is trying to figure out what the feedstocks can be.

Bryce Irlbeck – AgriSecure, B&B Irlbeck Farms (CACS; HS)

Corn and soybean and alfalfa. 2 topics: importation of organic grains and organic transition initiative. Imports – we are losing organic farms at incredible rate and really coming from importation of grain. Importing from Russia, Turkey, Africa. Gut punch to farmer. Then we added in extra rigorous certification process and didn’t curb imports. We have grain coming in and once our farmers leave, they don’t come back. Call to action – need testing and testing ships that come over and make it same as U.S. grower has to go through.

OTI plan was great to promote industry, but idea was great. Local USDA people were good but had zero info on how program worked and how to make it go through. Changing goal posts and won’t even get to utilize the program.

Allison: Tell us more about who running into challenges with?

Bryce: OTI, not running into trouble at local office, it’s that they just had zero info about program. We worked with 17 different people – they weren’t given info from the top. We were kicked out of the program, let us back in, then kicked back out for some technical reason.

Allison: Was this the NRCS funding?

Bryce: Correct.

Nate: You were saying sustainable you were meaning economically right?

Bryce: Yes, it has to be to keep the market alive.

Nate: On the OTI EQIP 823 you are able to grow the biomass because you are irrigated but you are still having trouble getting this through? You should be able to meet the biomass question?

We didn’t even get that far to the biomass question. It’s not the local offices fault, they just are not being told anything from the top.

Nate Powell-Palm: program would be beneficial if had local education and support?

Bryce: Yes, it mitigates the risk and helps try things and pays for you to learn and do things right.

Amy: On 823? Are you aware of any producers awarded OTI 823?

Bryce: I am not. Told we were one of very few that signed up. Not sure program actually exists.

Emily Moyer – International Fresh Produce Association (CS; HS)

Vice president of regulatory compliance and safety at IFPA. Represents every segment of fresh produce and floral industry. IFPA organic committee comments. A number of materials being reviewed next week are important for our organic members. CO2 petition and peroxyacetic acid (PA) We know NOSB has hesitated adding CO2 based on the petition – IFPA members have found that CO2 is important for controlling production systems on-farms, especially controlled-environment agriculture. CEA production does continue to grow as a production method and CO2 is needed as a plant or soil amendment Peroxyacetic acid is necessary for sanitizing in fresh produce and handling environments. It’s one of the most common antimicrobials for this use. It’s also used for cleaning water wash and irrigation. If PA is not available we worry safe organic produce would be severely impacted.

Logan: Thanks for comments on CO2. Petition was extremely vague for amendment. TR is only thing that provided any info. Petition really focused on irrigation water and so that really directed the board. Do you know what methods are being used in organic greenhouses currently since CO2 not allowed?

Don’t personally know, but can speak with members and get more details. I understand the limitation of petition and think for our members can get better info for soil amendment.

Logan: not the material itself nervous about, but the use. Haven’t heard from any greenhouse user or anybody saying it’s needed and help convince us. Did see QCS comment and encourage them to get more info for us.

Hilary Near – City & County of San Francisco, Environment Department (CS)

Comment re: definition of compost. The compostable plastic liners have been important to capture food scraps. We’ve required all businesses and residences to have access to it. Significant results related to that. Rely on food contact and regulated to require packages to be reusable to recapture more organics generated in city. Have to capture food scraps to meet climate goals. Also have high contamination and we do see that these products are important to reducing contamination. Compostable produce bags required. Guidelines that limit composters and asking NOSB to consider comprehensive view to allow food scraps.

Nate Lewis: Curious if can provide insights into non-film compostable products. Any thing beyond the bag and how that does or doesn’t help waste reduction goal.

Hilary: Very attached to the bags – really important. We’re hopeful in CA that would limit use of green film outside of certified compostable. Many businesses very attached to convenience and they get less contamination if all compostable. For places like venues, they invest in those and they can do less sorting on the backend. We’re also a testing ground b/c out customers will pay premium. Do get alot of green washing. Some are not actually certified compostable. Sometimes labeling issues and so much conventional plastic, have to screen to get it out.

Brian: goals of your program are laudable, but we have a composting facility near us that has two streams. One does not include food waste and allowed to be sold to organic operations. Other stream not sold as organic. What would be practical impact if not sold to organic farms?

Hilary: Composter did invest in that to keep separate piles. Since consolidated operations and financially it isn’t possible to keep dual piles. Our state law – we will not have that option. If you all don’t include products that allow synthetic, we won’t be able to accept or process those materials in CA in 2026.

Brian: state law includes requirement that it be allowed to include organic in it?

Hilary: yes, 8o1201

Brian: That piece explains a lot. Thinking out loud we need to do what we think is best for entire country.

Allison: Appreciate your work. Curious if there are other places we need to be showing up to make sure we are weighing in on “what meets the definition of compostable”? So that we can get all these definitions aligns and have CA compost still used on organic farms.

Hilary: Alot to clean up. US Composting Council important. CA is unique in that we have microcosm. What you do here and how impacts CA will be significant federally.

Harry Rice – Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega‐3s (GOED) (HS TU)

Represent global industry. Built on quality standard, mission to increase consumption. The review of fish oil: GOED continues to support inclusion of fish oil. During previous sunset sustainability has been the most contentious issue. Disappointed that NOP has not acted on the NOSB’s recommendation to amend the fish oil annotation to ensure the product is sustainable. There is no species that is caught primarily for fish oil.

Rob MacGregor – Horizon Organic Dairy (LS)

Large animal vet who has worked in organic for 15 years. Work as vet and milk quality manager. Excited about NOSB opportunity to support meloxicam for organic dairy for horn removal. Horn removal is important for staff and animal safety. De-horning while necessary is painful,. Especially with chemical removal. Currently org dairy producers have limited tools to keep dehorning humane. The substances for pain control are limited. Meloxicam is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) drug used for humans and animals. It is more effective than aspirin. It is routinely given in pill form which is easier than IV. Adding Meloxicam to the list would give a safe, reliable, and easy to administer medication. Support continued use of xylazine as well. It is a commons sedative including for sedative. Also support parasiticides of moxidexin and fenbendazole.

Nicole Dehne – Vermont Organic Farmers LLC (General)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

My name is Nicole Dehne, I’m the certification director for Vermont Organic Farmers representing close to 750 organic producers in the state of Vermont. I would like to thank the NOSB and NOP for all of your hard work.

I’d like to comment today on the discussion document regarding compost.

VOF does not support a change in the regulations to redefine compost feedstocks. We feel organic farmers in Vermont would be negatively affected by this change. Compost is a critical input that farmers in Vermont use to improve soil quality and health. We are concerned that changing the regulations to allow more synthetic feedstocks in approved compost would risk serious contamination to organic land.

VOF runs our own compost approval program. We ask composters to fill out an application that describes their feedstocks, composting process, and asks them how they mitigate the risk of contamination from specific feedstocks. Composters fill out the application and have an on-site inspection every two years. Once approved, we identify them to our certified producers as “compost approved for use on organic farms”. This allows our farmers to understand that this compost meets the NOP regulations for compost. It also provides some assurance that these composters are addressing contamination risk from feedstocks.

Our approved composters are required to screen feedstocks for plastics and compostable products before the composting process begins. We agree that 100% of these contaminants are not removed during this step. However, screening for these materials is an important step to reducing the contamination in the final product. An even better step is not accepting food waste that allows compostable products, and some of our composters start there. Commercial compost operations in Vermont have identified that it is feasible and preferred to avoid allowing compostable products to enter compost.

We hear from our composters that because there is no way for them to tell the difference between compostable plastic and plastic, that all of those materials must be pre-screened at the same time.

In fact, the majority of composters in VT have stopped taking food waste that contains compostable products because it increased the amount of petroleum based products that ended up in the feedstock. We feel that changing the regulations to allow for some compostable materials would result in the allowance of plastics in compost, as then both of these materials would be screened out of the final compost process (vs pre-screened) resulting in a compost with more potential contaminants.

In general, we feel that compost approved for use on organic farms should meet more stringent standards. Because the composting process can concentrate contaminants, we must be extremely diligent about what feedstocks are allowed to be used.

Finally, this regulation change would not help organic farmers. It would put them at more risk for potential soil contamination and it would not improve the quality of the compost that they rely on.

Mindee: Wondering if two-year inspection cycle – what visibility that gives you? And in thinking how we can reduce contamination if post-consumer vs. Post-producer could be interesting path? Is that distinction in feedstocks?

Nicole: we implemented our own compost approval program. We needed to review the compost and view site to look for management issues, see feedstocks before they go in, etc. We do that every two years. Composters we see are being choosy about their feedstock. Getting waste from consumers is the most difficult – so they are looking at other options. One manufacturer did different piles, one for organic, one for non-organic. The compost for organic farms should be more strict.

Nate Lewis: How do you apply the C:N ratio in your evaluation.

Nicole: Heard others comment and feel I don’t have enough expertise to comment on it. Want to bring composters who are really knowledgeable to the next meeting.

Heather Spalding – Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) (General)

[Comments pending.]

Nate: Refer back to your written comments about testing. Is there a reason that certifiers can’t adjust their fee schedules, when they are private (not state certifiers).

Heather: MOFGA – over 50 years old. We’ve tried to make s=cert accessible. Worked hard to do that. We are lean. We have a tight budget. We feel that we are grateful for all the work that has taken place to uphold organic label and strengthen organic enforcement. Trying to get across that we want to make sure cost to not only the accredited certifying organization but also the producers seeking certification are not going to be unbearable. Know the cost share program has been limited. Uncertainty about cost share funding in the future. We’d rather be clear and consistent and keep certification costs as affordable as possible. This is the model versus a la carte. If importer bringing in 50 –100 million dollars is it ethical to have them $1500 certification cost?

Nate: How do we level the playing field?

Heather: Wish Chris were here. Will pull together a more specific response and staff in Milwaukee will convey that.

Ginny Olson – Lockton Companies ‐ Organic Crop Insurance Agent (CACS)

Positive: good farming practices. I had a farmer who has been planting spring rye with his soy, and worked to get approval to get spring rye insured despite their practices. It was said to be a good farming practice. Amy: We got to celebrate the successes and your Part 2, will pose the question back to you. You’ve worked with producers – would from agent perspective it be better if can use transitional yield info to build APH?

Ginny: Think so. I see that yield keeps increasing over time. I think you can see the mind shift change when they build yield and not have to go back to the beginning. I think it’d be a great option to let the farmer choose b/c back in the day when farmers were conventional and transitioning we could use a conventional yield. If in transition, would that be a potential just to give farmer an option?

Nate Powell-Palm: I really appreciate you bringing the good news, and I want to give Amy a shoutout for making crop insurance a focus so that we are seeing tangible progress. Thank you for that question, because that is the kind of data gathering that we need. Thank you for thinking about these ideas and bringing solutions, rather than just complaints.

Mike Dill – Organic Produce Wholesalers Coalition (OPWC) (CACS, CS, HS)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

Good afternoon. My name is Mike Dill and I’m representing the organic produce wholesalers coalition. Otherwise known as OPWC. Today I’ll be commenting on 3 topics. As well as one general idea for improving the endless be experience.

First, this meeting was a doozy, 269 paid packet, 15 topic areas, 56 sunset materials and many questions for stakeholder response.

Often several questions per topic. It’s really astonishing the amount of thought and work that the 15, I mean, 14 board members put into the single meeting as well as the effort required by the organic community to respond.

The problem is such an extensive range and depth of topics makes it impossible for commenters to provide substantive, substantive feedback within the 30 day timeframe.

OPWC would like to offer the following ideas to foster more in-depth exchange of ideas and information.

One, we could move all discussion topics to a town hall format throughout the year with the 60 day advance notice period.

To dedicate the spring meeting to sunset materials and research priorities only. 3 reserve the fall meeting for proposals and sunset materials only, those topics that are up for a vote.

And then 4, we can make the spring meeting virtual and the fall meeting in person to reduce expenses, cut our carbon footprint and increase the equity of participation opportunities.

Next OPWC supports a proposal on improving support for organic transition, but we would like the subcommittee to add a reference to the farm bureau in section 3 of the proposal.

We think that this is an important investment in relationship and trust building with a group that we simply cannot afford to overlook.

Additionally, OPWC would like the NSB to work with stakeholders to create a definition for the terms transition transitioned and or transitional land.

The industry uses the term transition extensively, yet the closest thing we have to a definition in OFPA or the NOP is a reference to a 3 year eligibility period.

Neither, but nor NLP use the term transition as it relates to land. The result is that transition is a concept not linked to land undergoing any ecological transition.

On the topic of organic food system capacity and constraints, OPWC would like to re-emphasize our concern about the possibility of negative impacts on organic markets.

If programs and incurred, if programs encouraging transition are not balanced with equal or greater emphasis on growth and development of markets for organic products.

In our comments, we offer several suggestions, one of which is prioritizing regulation and enforcement of ecosystems, regenerative, and all other green claims made on agricultural products.

Finally, on the topic of compost, OPWC disagrees that biological or biodegradable plastics and other potential components of compost should be included in a definition of the term compost feedstocks.

Instead, we favor a listing for biodegradable plastics and inputs such as PLU stickers as compost on 205.601.

Along with the listing for prohibited feed stocks as well. Regulating compost feed stocks via the national list will allow for greater flexibility, the use of annotations to refine listings and quicker action whenever ASTM standards are amended in the future.

Amy: Thank you. I appreciate the comments that OPWC put together. Very informative. Thank you for bringing up the idea that we need to reach out to other groups.

Mike: I feel that the Farm Bureau has a lot of influence. There is a lot of inconsistency on how those state Farm Bureaus work; some are more friendly to organic. In terms of groups that are consistent across states, I think that the Farm Bureau is the one to start with. Land Grant Universities are hit or miss, too. If anything, bring Farm Bureaus to where they are accepting of organic, if not advocating for organic. Then we can move forward.

Nate Powell-Palm: Really appreciate you bringing solutions instead of just telling us how you do not like the way things are going.

Mike: Thank you. To your point, in the last couple of meetings, we have not been able to comment on all of the topics we would have liked. We did not have a substantive comment on crop insurance or residue testing. We would like to have more time to be able to comment on them. When we see people commenting on multiple comments across different scopes, that’s where the struggle comes in. The quality of work if we had more time would be better. The town hall sessions that the NOP had prior to the market development grant is something to look at for something like compost, where we need immediate feedback, so we don’t have to keep waiting for 6-month increments.

Jerry: Thank you for quietly acknowledging that we are operating a full person short now as a Board.

Mike: Every meeting wish I could acknowledge board. Every word counts in 3 minutes. Appreciate your work.

Wood: You really just summarized, though, to put a point on that – you’re talking about trying to be an expert on all of the different areas and if you were focused on one area of the value chain, you could give more substantive comments. I think that is the challenge that we find as a working body is trying to be experts on many, many different topics.

Mike: I totally get it; it’s overwhelming. I don’t know how you all do it.

Kyla: It’s really awesome, and there’s going to be a call for nominations coming up soon. Don’t let anyone scare you off.

Sara Neagu‐Reed – IFPA (CS)

Director of Production & Environmental Policy, IFPA. Focusing comments on residue testing and crop insurance. As my colleague Emily Moyer shared earlier, our Trade Association represents over 2,500 companies from every global fresh produce supply chain segment, including the over 500 companies directly involved in the organic fresh fruit, vegetable, and floral supply chain.

Residue testing for global supply chain, IFPA thinks it is critical to take steps to ensure compliance of operations. However, creating more rigorous testing requirements must be done carefully. Currently, residue testing is already conducted on farms and certifiers are to sample 5% of their clients. Any changes, must remain science based. Moreover, ISPA members have expressed concern if testing gets more refined that producers will have difficulty detecting residue at increasingly low levels, which would negatively impact organic designations.

Crop insurance: One member explained that they recently suffere3d from a virus outbreaks in AZ. Crop insurance wasn’t available and they have been struggling to cover their losses. ……

Additionally, I want to reiterate IFPA’s support for the continued use for objective, science-based consideration when considering materials on the NL.

Wood: Did you say more-refined testing would limit residue detection at low levels? I didn’t follow, did I hear that correctly.

Sara: Concern that a more rigorous testing that our growers would have difficulty in detecting the residue.

Wood: Yeah, I don’t really understand that.

Amy: helpful to have produce viewpoints. Residue testing – you mention we need consistency with international standards – can you elaborate? Data we’re receiving is that Europe has strict standards, potentially more so that US.

Sara: That is something that our growers have indicated is concerning to them when it comes to trying to review what the EU standards are versus the US, especially with more that they are pursuing and the pushback that they are receiving. To get more detailed responses, I would have to go back to our group and share those back with you all.

Nate Powell-Palm: It’s more so the more we test, the more we’ll find? Correct?

Sara: That’s correct.

Wood: That helps.

Alice Runde – National Organic Coalition (General)

[Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

Good afternoon, my name is Alice Runde, I am the operations director at the National Organic Coalition or NOC.

(slide 1)

NOC is extremely grateful for the tremendous work the NOSB leads. And we think it is crucial for the NOSB, as public representatives of the organic community, to actively seek to center racial equity in the organic movement. Racial equity needs to be centered in organic for the following reasons:

  • Diversity is a central tenet of organic

    Systemic racism has disenfranchised farmers of color:

    We need to acknowledge Indigenous knowledge and the narratives elevated when talking about organic practices

    Collective liberation – Understand that addressing challenges that farmers of color face at disproportionate rates would help all farmers.

  • (slide 2)

    The USDA Equity Commission, analyzed how USDA’s programs, policies, and practices contribute to systemic discrimination. In February, the commission published their Final Report which provided 66 recommendations. In our written comments, we highlight a few examples of recommendations that seem particularly relevant to the NOSB and NOP.

    (slide 3)

    I would like to elevate the first recommendation in the report: Institutionalize Equity. The report says “Lasting and long-term organizational change requires consistent leadership attention, adequate resources, and accountability.” Especially because NOSB members only serve a 5-year appointment, it is important that any equity practices, resources, and accountability mechanisms be institutionalized in the NOSB process, and supported by the NOP.

    We encourage the NOSB to work on this idea, and to ask for recommendations from the public and organizations experienced in this area.

    (slide 4)

    On this slide and in our comments, NOC suggests several ways to institutionalize equity in NOSB processes.

    For example, by including racial equity training in the onboarding process for new NOSB Members and by including work agenda items that directly address racial equity.

    (slide 5)

    Other examples of institutionalizing equity would be to build a culture of equity and inclusion at the NOSB level, and address barriers to participation for diverse representation on the NOSB.

    One way to work towards a culture of equity and inclusion at the NOSB level would be to set agreements about how to work together. Everyone appointed to the Board was selected because of their outstanding skill sets – but it takes a group acknowledgement to make sure that all Board members have equal chances to voice their opinions. Community agreements can help make power dynamics more visible and ensure everyone in the room gets to contribute to the process.

    One way to address barriers to participation for diverse representation on the NOSB is to leverage the Technical Specialists’ roles.

    Their purpose is to ease the burden of board service. We would like further clarification on the process that Board members use to request support and if there are limits to the support offered. We believe that the NOP should not be a gatekeeper for support or output of that staff, and in our written comments, we provide suggestions for a transparent process.

    With many upcoming Board positions needing to be filled we encourage this transparency so that as we talk with and encourage qualified people to apply, we can accurately tell them what support they might be able to expect from these specialists.

    Thank you for all your work and commitment to organic agriculture.

    (next slide please)

    I knew that if I said all this very quickly I would have 10 seconds left to squeeze this last slide in – this is a resource on the main barriers to organic certification that was developed thanks to a Human Capital Initiative NOC, OFA, IOIA, ACA, IFOAM and others were involved – it’s in our comments but wanted to highlight it here, since we’ve brought this topic up several times in our past comments.

    Allison: I’d love to see more of your last slide of barriers to organic. Is you have thoughts about what else the NOSB can do to address some of these barriers from where the Board sits.

    Alice: Thank you. This slide is also in our written comments and is part of a Human Capital initiative with other groups. We have done a few exercises with different groups of people to identify which of these barriers could be addressed, and I think that we all plug in for different areas. I think it would be important for the NOSB to see which items might be most relevant to your work, and then I’d be happy to work with NOC and NOSB members on these further.

    Wood: Important and appreciate solution-oriented comments. Want to point out question about research priorities – including research priorities around racial equity. What those research priorities might be? I don’t quite understand research piece of it.

    Alice: That’s a great question. I’m also very action-oriented, so I appreciate that. I think one of the things that we’ve tried to elevate is research on certification, and I think that research that is needed now is research on how to address barriers. I’d be happy to circle back with more tangible suggestions.

    Kyla: Surprisingly, five years goes quickly. I believe there will be a report out during PDS on the wonderful work that our food technologist support persons have been providing to the Board. Hopefully that will help in your engagement with potential candidates.

    Amy: A thought question – heard from a lot of producers about challenges they are experiencing. How should we balance new and retention of organic producers? What should be the balance?

    Alice: I’m lacking because I feel that it’s such a huge question that I’m not in a position to answer. At our Pre-NOSB Meeting coming up, there will be 6 farmers, a couple of which have chosen not to certify anymore, and I think it might help to inform this discussion.

    Milo Petruziello – OEFFA

    [Comments pending.]

    Nate Lewis: Question about OEFFA’s comments on methionine. I was intrigued because you suggest the possibility with aligning with Canda and the EU, where we would make natural sources the priority with the methionine the secondary option. Would you support that with the current restrictions that we have, or would you support it with no preference for the limitation.

    Milo: I would refer comment to one of my colleagues whom are on schedule to comment.

    Justin Raikes – Raikes Organic Farms, LLC (CACS, CS)

    5th generation row crop farmer in Nebraska. Organic production has a steady market where the prices don’t crash. In the last 2 years gone from $15 bushel soy to $2 bushel???? Soy. All our other crops are similar. We can’t keep going at these prices, struggling to pay living wages to our employees which we could do in the past. The fraud overseas is really harming our price variability. The imports appear to fail a basic mass-balance test, like what is required for our certification. We need more than the SOE rule though we support it. All of our production gets tested why do we have different standards? How can we place value on domestic organic products? This has to work as a business. Any efforts to encourage more transition will not succeed if the standards are not enforced.

    Nate Powell Palm: To be clear, you’re a fan of using testing as an enhanced tool to ensure the playing field is leveled; correct?

    Justin: Absolutely.

    Kim: Two questions. First, around price volatility. Outside the global supply chain, what would mitigate volatility of organic farming?

    Justin: There have been a lot of ideas discussed in these meetings. I think that every effort that can be made to ensure integrity helps to ensure we are dealing with a legitimate pool of acres. The volatility to me is new. There appears to be a lot of linkage to conventional pricing that ought not be there. Therefore, there is a lot of volatility that shouldn’t exist. In terms of additional steps outside of the enforcement of rules, I think that the efforts underway with crop insurance are important. Let’s make sure we are enforcing the rules evening, and if we are doing that, transitioning new acres into organic becomes easier. That’s thelong-termm solution. I get a little frustrated when I hear certain folks talking about the need for imports because domestic production isn’t enough. We aren’t going to get more domestic acres if we are undercutting domestic price.

    Kim: Then there is the demand side. Any thoughts on how we can promote demand side. I’m seeing concern about elevated growth patterns that would be tributary to your supply, but those have been challenged as well.

    Justin: We have livestock, as well, so I see this on both sides. You cannot have sky-high prices and have the livestock portion of this work with the feed. That’s the point, though. The source of extreme volatility here is that as we cracked down on stuff that wasn’t so legit, you create this time where… What we want is the same thing that they want – we need steady. We do not need the sky high; we need steady. On the demand side we can see serious damage to your business if we have to live through these massive price hikes. That’s why we need to get to a steady middle ground. I think having this outside supply that, as a producer it is hard to know how to deal with that exactly, it makes everything more difficult. It’s partly, too, a pitch for sunlight. Transparency is a good disinfectant on this situation.

    Kim: Can you elaborate on any fragmented logistics, or outlets. I think you mentioned food grade is where you like to go with your products. Have you noticed anything with how things are moved (rail, truck)? Have you noticed any inflation or changes in the trucking aspect?

    Justin: That vast majority of our trade is trucking, so I cannot really comment on that. We third-party the majority of it. The prices have increased for trucking. The insurance especially.

    Jerry: You were addressing overall profitability back to the farm and things coming at you sideways that prevent that. Would most of your concerns be fully addressed by “a level playing field?”

    Justin: Yeah, I think so.

    Kyla: The devil is in the details on how to get there, though.

    Brian: I think that you broaden out some of these issues with price volatility and spikes and valleys. The end result of that is that it hurts farmers, crop growers, livestock producers, and goes to the consumers who will lose faith in the product when they are hit by high prices. Thank you for bringing that to us.

    Jackie DeMinter – MOSA (CS, MS)

    [Comments pending.]

    Nate Powell Palm: Could you give us a gut feeling on when MOSA does their 5% residue testing, do you feel that you are testing operations that are most at risk in the supply chain or just trying to meet the requirement?

    Jackie: I think risk is very much taken into account and all of our reviewers do a risk analysis on an annual basis. We indicate what risks on operations would be and give guidance on where that should land and if residue testing should be a part of that. Inspection department signs that out. Short answer – yes, residue testing based on risk.

    Nate Powell Palm: What is the source of the information to establish that risk? How do you decide what is risky?

    Jackie: I think that largely risk depends on operation and point to public reference to ACA risk best practices/risk management that guides certifiers as to risks and types of operations. Not only pesticide risk, but other supply chain factors and now introducing traceability audits as well.

    Nate Powell Palm: Would that risk matrix be something you could send to Michelle?

    Jackie: I think it is on the ACA website, and I think that Gail recently said anyone could request a copy and she would be happy to send it to anyone.

    Kyla: I will share it with the Board.

    Mindee: Looking at the compost question and reading your comment, I noted that you said something along the lines that we do not want to see compost become similar circumstance to ASTM standards. Can you unpack that a little bit?

    Jackie: I’m reviewing the paragraph of our comment. We’re saying we don’t want compost overregulated so we won’t be able to use it. Paper pots long extended process to get to agreeable position without enough info at onset. Let’s make sure we have information before start diving into regulatory writing or revision.

    Amy: Question: about the 5%. The guidance is that we test 5% of operations. ACA matrix, applying that to operations your certify. Is 5% a low bar for testing? Would it be of interest to test more than 5% based on risk factors?

    Jackie: I think you are dipping into two different subjects. One is the 5% standard that we need to comply with for reside testing, but the risk assessment template that I’m referencing engages a whole lot of other risks on whether or not we should do unannounced inspections on those operations. We are looking at the risk assessment on who we are going to do unannounced inspections on, which we also have a 5% requirement on. For MOSA, that lands us at 100+/- operations, and we, as a certifier, estimate high because you always bump up against things.

    If it is a residue testing that we are doing as an investigation or on a complaint, we will count that as part of our 5%, but if we have already met our 5%, we would do it anyway. We are always willing to do it, as needed.

    Kyla: Any thoughts on any of the additional questions on the TR template. Would they be helpful in material review?

    Jackie: How about I give that some thought after this meeting, and I would be happy to send you more comments on that. It wasn’t something that we delved into and supplied comments on. We use the TRs as a resource for every material, so we are often referencing those. One of the things that I like that recently came on them is information on ancillaries. I would be happy to look at that and provide additional feedback.

    Kyla: Please feel free to pass that along to Michelle.

    Mark Way – President/CEO ‐ York State Bank (CACS)

    Hi, good afternoon. My name is Mark Way. I’m the president CEO of York State Bank.

    We’re a community bank located in Nebraska and part of a group of 9 banks. If all of our group was rolled into one bank, we’d be the number 3 ag lending bank in America, by volume.

    Today I’d like to give you a banker’s perspective on financing organic farming operations and the critical nature of commodity pricing.

    As with any lending cash flow is critical. As bankers, we spend time analyzing both the current production cycle as well as future cycles to ensure that short and long-term Dead obligations can be serviced.

    We have found organic prices and practices. Lead to higher break even points than what we see in conventional forming.

    Thus, there’s a necessity for the presence of premium pricing in the marketplace. These higher break events are a result of a cost higher larger cost structure.

    I’ll highlight just a few of those. One primary example is weed management. How to quickly control measures dictate more intensive efforts equating to more passes through each field.

    Consequently, this increases time allocation for field management and labor as well as greater fuel costs.

    This also leads to an increase in wear and chair on equipment in turn representing higher expenses from frequent repairs and replacement.

    In addition, investment and extra equipment is often necessary in an operation to meet the narrow windows of time available for adequate we control.

    Some other key cost differences from conventional agriculture show up in fertility sourcing and crop inventory delivery.

    Input and delivery channels create added transportation expense due to the lack of local access points. But more significant than that.

    Facilities cost for storage can be much greater. We see fertilizer being sourced earlier and the need for a crop inventory to be held longer.

    In fact, as lenders, we often finance 3 separate production cycles within the same calendar year. As we finance the crop growing in the field.

    Last year’s crop and storage and next year’s inputs. Given the cost structural differences, our concern looking forward is primarily on commodity prices.

    In general, organic producers face greater uncertainty in pricing. There’s no Chicago Board of Trade. This means less market efficiency and fewer hedging tools available.

    Therefore, is imperative that adequate price premiums for organic products are present. Whether your point of view is macro or in my case, it’s more micro as we work directly with local producers.

    A serious threat to the sustainability of American organic organic farming is an equitable marketplace. Is imperative that we ensure the integrity of it organic imports.

    We must have standards that preserve a level playing field for domestic informed products. Foreign producers are facing similar high cost constraints as outlined earlier and as a result not it’s not practical for other nations to profitably deliver imports at a lower price point than our US producers.

    If they can, something’s amiss.

    Nate Powell Palm: Your concerns echo concerns of many farmers.

    Mark: See a lot of producers that need multiple operating lines. Financing needs can be greater through the transition years. Having a stable price environment is going to be critical for the long run.

    Franklin: How do labor costs factor into imports?

    Mark: I guess I can’t speak to importer, but on local level, the need to be in the field more frequently elicits more labor costs. Surveying field, making sure practices are conducted timely, enlists more labor. Weeds will sometimes be outside of parameters liek to see, and go back to manual labor to physical removal. As we compare local producers in conventional versus organic, we see larger labor cost for organic locally.

    Kim: As we talk about some of the risk management tools that organic farmers have or lack thereof, what are your thoughts on further tools that we could have? If there was some sort of mechanism that allowed us to hedge risk, what do you think of that?

    Mark: The inventory can sometimes be a little bit longer than on the conventional side, and part of that has to do with the premium. It puts the producer in the position where they do not necessarily know what their cashflow is going to look like throughout the year. There is added risk in there that you do not see on the conventional side. Any ways to mitigate risk is going to have value to the end producer.

    Kim: I hear that loud and clear when we talk about minimizing the swing in that environment is important.

    Jerry: Heard that overseas was saddled with the same kinds of issues we have; Franklin hit the big issue of labor. At the end of the day cheating is highly worthwhile for these people.

    Mark: Unfortunately, yes.

    Logan: I was going to talk about the labor that Franklin brought up. I wanted to give it perspective on a corn crop here. It looks like it is only 10% or less of the total cost of production. If you’re hand weeding, you’re going to bump up to 25-20% more, but that’s just to give an idea.

    Emily Musgrave – Driscolls’ Inc. (CACS, CS)

    Organic Regulatory Manager.

    Additionally we are a voluntary member and support International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) comments.

    Hydrogen peroxide – supports, widely used by Driscoll growers. Widely used for disease control. Supports continued listing of horticultural oils. Entire organic industry is dependent for killing fungal pathogens. Pheromones are primary way to control moths as mating disruptor. Supports continued listing of ferric phosphate. Integral component of IPM strategies. Supports continued listing of potassium bicarbonate – extremely important in strawberry production. Also essential for IPM strategies. Magnesium sulfate – supports. Plants will suffer without proper levels of magnesium.

    Brian Baker – Belcairn Concerns in Eugene OR (CS, MS)

    [Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

    Thank you for the opportunity to address you.

    Brian Baker, Belcairn Concerns, Eugene, Oregon.
    [Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

    Please consider my written comments submitted with Chuck Benbrook. Today’s comments are on the discussion papers:

  • Residue testing for the global supply chain;

    Inert ingredients in organic pesticide products.

  • Key points:

    A growing body of scientific evidence supports the health claim that organic food significantly reduces dietary risk from exposure relative to pesticides in conventional food.

    Fraud, negligence, and unavoidable circumstances all mean organic food is not pesticide-residue free.

    Organic certifiers have a growing database of pesticide residues in organic food.

    Analysis of that data can target sampling of crops and pesticides that pose the greatest risks to organic food buyers.

    Many positive samples of organic food are for post-harvest chemicals or evidence of commingling at the processor level.

    It is easier to buy conventional food and sell it as organic than it is to grow conventional food and sell it as organic.

    Glyphosate, its metabolites, and EPA registered plant pesticides in transgenic crops are missing in the current guidelines and discussion document.

    Unavoidable Residual Environmental Contamination needs to be addressed.

    FDA does not handle samples labeled as “Organic” any differently from any other samples.

    The FDA does NOT inform the NOP and responsible certifiers when the FDA finds a sample labeled as organic that tests positive.

    The FDA does not enforce the NOP threshold of 5% of EPA contamination for products labeled as organic and regards that as the USDA’s responsibility.

    FDA should report to the USDA and the certifiers they discover pesticides in organic food.

    The USDA and its accredited certifiers should investigate FDA’s reported findings.

    USDA should acknowledge the growing body of scientific evidence supports the claim that organic food is safer than conventional food.

    Organic food must meet the safety standards for all food AND is required by law to provide greater protections to human health from pesticides and other human health risks.

    Regarding inert ingredients—or as I prefer to call them, “co-formulants”—my key points are:

  • Registrants and the EPA need to cooperate with the NOSB so it can make informed decisions about what ingredients it is being asked to add to the National List.

    The process requires full transparency and public access to information regarding the ingredients under consideration.

    Once EPA and the registrants agree to cooperate with the NOSB, it will then be possible for the public to engage in the long overdue task of identifying what co-formulants meet organic standards.

  • Thank you for your service. I welcome your questions.

    Dilip: Organic pesticides in organic food is interesting and important, as consumers have this expectation. Can you provide more insight into more pesticides in organic food; is it from more use or drift, or…?

    Brian: Yes, with my experience working in certification, as well as doing research, the 3 main reasons are drift. What the neighbors are doing. The second is post-harvest handling. For example, diphenylamine is a post-harvest use on apples, and we have known for years that DPA is volatile at low temps, and the organic apples are going to test positive. We know that. Another reason is legacy pesticides, such as DDT, with some of these “forever chemicals” that translocate from the soil into certain crops. We’ve known for 40 years that if you have DDT in the soil, potatoes and carrots are going to have those pesticides in them. This is avoidable. We can test the soil and avoid planting carrots and potatoes there. The final is fraud. Anytime you see more than one pesticide in a crop, that should be a red crop that these pesticides are being applied deliberately. I have not done a thorough analysis of FDA results, but the FDA does not make the data available on their website for a good 2 years after the results are back, so we are missing out on a big chunk of evidence that fraud is being committed by not working with the FDA for their data.

    There is DDT being used in other parts of the world. How much and in what specific counties…or other organic chlorines that are going to come into certain crops. That can be a problem for something like ginger, for example. If you are growing root crops in tropical conditions. DDT that was applied in the 60s is still showing up in organic crops.

    Dilip: Some of the vegetables have high pesticide residues. You mentioned apples, but I think sweet peppers, also?

    Brian: There was one sample of a sweet pepper that came up from Mexico, and there was like 17 residues on that pepper. Why? That was in 2022 and it wasn’t until 2024 that those results were reported… that food was long gone.

    Ron DeBoer – Organic Farmer (CACS)

    Organic farmer in Nebraska. Farming organic corn and beans for last 5-6 years. Within those years the price was really good. I was able to keep farming bc of the organic stuff I was selling. At the point now where organic is down in soy and corn. We have too much imports and we need to make stricter regulations because it’s an unfair market. Some of the imports coming in are at less than cost of production. The proposals by CACS are a great start. The best way to grow organic markets is to not bring in so much imports and rely on farmers in the USA to supply everyone.

    Kyla: I appreciate all of the farmers that are coming to speak about imports. I have heard that there is a real urgency, and I know that there are some things that happened within the SOE rulemaking that will take some time to roll out and to see the impact of. I did just want to highlight that every import that is coming into the country is going to need to have an NOP Import Certificate, and certifiers are going to have to have processes in place in how to do them. I know it’s not going to happen fast enough for a lot of folks, but I wanted to highlight that it is coming, and hopefully it will be impactful for fraudulent imports and cheaters that are out there.

    Jerry: As talking about limited time, this is not the right forum for anything other than SOE and “leveling the playing field.” This is not the body to talk to.

    Ron: Then who should I go to?

    Kyla: That’s a bigger issue than our authority to have any impact on trade relations. Your congress person might be a good start.

    Tony Michaels – organic producer (CACS)

    Farm in Nebraska. I am not on the trade limitations side of things, but I do think that we can speed up and do a better job on the “organic” crops that are coming in from overseas. I think that there is a lot of things that we can do to cut down on fraudulent imports. The fluctuations seem to be too great and we should be able to do something about them.

    Also, want to say that if you are going through a transition, you should be able to count your yield if you are going through APH for organic, and it seems that should be able to help you get to good yields for when you are organic.

    Kim: As fellow border state farmer, tell me a little bit about how you transport your products to market and how fragmented infrastructure affects getting product to market?

    Tony: We took over these acres a few years ago, and we are in the latter stages of transition. We thought that through by design. A good chunk of our crops are going into feeding cattle, so that was part of getting a plan that matches the geography. Otherwise, yes, the logistics of moving this stuff around is a pain. It is challenging from the cost and infrastructure and transport. This area is challenging to get fertility, so being able to do beef or walk those animals onto parts of the pivot is valuable in being able to get some of those fertilities back. It’s definitely something you need to think about ahead of time.

    Kim: Having a complementary rotation program that can feed into those rotations as well is important.

    DAY 2: APRIL 25, 2024

    Barry Flonnory – BF Farm Enterprises, LLC (CS)

    We’re in Georgia and own 163 acres and farm about 1000 acres. In midst of transition. Three comments are NCRS – they have a hard time administering the program. They don’t know a lot of policies and procedures. The Conservation Stewardship Program and Env. Quality program they don’t know how to manage. Transition costs during period of transition, following organic practices, but have to buy land and equipment. There’s a lot of cost involved. During 3-year period doing organic practices but selling conventional prices. If way to help that would be appreciated.

    Nate Powell Palm: Have you tried to get 823 funding? What have you tried to apply for?

    Barry: I applied for all three – TOPP, and they can hardly answer one question. She emailed the state rep, and they didn’t know, either. I have been a part of Conservation Steward Program, but they do not know how to tie it to the organic transition program, and that is the same with EQUIP – major concern. Every cent helps when you are transitioning.

    Nate Powell Palm: Would love to follow up with you and see how we can help you out, especially with TOPP.

    Alison: More we know what’s working and what’s not working, the better we know how to help. Curious about how transition process has gone for you? What changes, opportunities, and causing you to stick with it even though support programs aren’t there way they should be?

    Barry: I would say that it is tough, at best, but when you want to do something and you have a will to do it, you figure out a way to get it done. It’s very tough, but I want to transition. I want the working environment to be safe for my workers and family. I want to raise quality feed and food, and that’s why I’m sticking to it.

    Amy: Thank you so much for joining us and we want to ensure to follow up and get you the technical resources that you need to be successful.

    Logan: What kind of farming system do you have?

    Barry: Row crops, and right now I’m doing a lot of Milo and Soybeans. Once I’m certified, we will expand more.

    Nate Powell-Palm: Are you enrolled in the TOPP program as a transitioning mentee?

    Barry: Yes, have three representatives helping me right now.

    Merry Clark – Roseland Organic Farms (LS; PDS; General)

    Short story, parents started farm in 1980. Had about 1500 acres. There were droughts, high interest rates, and by 90s things moving along. Mom was on NOSB in 1992. She was chair of first livestock committee. I understand still debating same issues as 30 years ago. Access to pasture is a big issue still being discussed. After dad passed, brother took over the operation. He decided it would be grass-fed and land would be certified organic. Lack of certified organic processors in SW Michigan. When Whole Foods came in it changed the ball game. Probably heard this before, the certified organic grass-fed beef is competing with organic beef. I know ROP people are talking about those issues. Dave Chapman will be on here. Back to my mom, 86, has Alzheimer’s. She left a lot of notes about experience on NOSB. I’m turning it into a book coming out next May. Want to know about Farm Systems Reform Act.

    Kyla: I will be fascinated to read the book when it comes out.

    Jerry: You said that Whole Foods came in and “changed things.” How did it change your life?

    Merry: You cannot sell as much beef, because there are these other sources that aren’t local. It imposed on the sales.

    Alison: We, as a Board, can provide recommendations to the USDA about what we can do under the existing laws. The Farm System Reform Act is new action proposed by Congress. We will do everything we can within our purview regarding the issues that you and others raise, but you also need to be talking with your legislators. Keep showing up here and keep showing up to your members of Congress. You mentioned processing; do you see it opening up at all with the funding that has been coming through? Do you have a sense for what it would take for your brother to re-up his certification for the herd?

    Merry: That’s a whole other part of the story that I didn’t get to. Brothers are getting older, but the answer is probably not b/c they are not doing it to the level b/c next generation not sure what want to do. Solar company coming into the area and leasing some of our land. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know about processors b/c the business is much smaller. I’d have to ask my brother.

    Nate: What a great story. I am a beef guy, and I appreciate you bringing the beef question to bear. Can you speak to any evidence for CAFO beef being the problem versus imported beef being the problem – hard on American markets. I cannot find any CAFO beef. Can you point us to some of those companies or areas that you are seeing it come from?

    Merry: I wouldn’t know that. Doesn’t it all go to Burger King or something?

    Nate: I mean organic CAFO beef?

    Merry: I don’t know. I just know that you can call it “certified organic” even if it was raised in that manner.

    Nate: Do you think that if no CAFO organic beef is actually making it to market, would that help us for it not to be allowed as organic?

    Merry: I do not know if the consumer really understands.

    Nate: I would love to follow up. These are important issues.

    Mindee: Thank you for service to food system.

    Merry: Book is called Dandelion Roots Run Deep.

    Kestrel Burcham – The Cornucopia Institute (General)

    [See Cornucopia’s Policy Director’s oral comment script online.]

    Daniel Giacomini – Pacific Nutrition‐Consulting (General)

    Consulting since 1990s. Former NOSB member; chair in 2010.

    I support the re-listing of all sunset items under consideration specifically as support listing the current listing of iodine on 603. There’s a concern with NPEs and I’m not aware of any such products still on the market. I support re-listing both fenbendazole and moxidectin. However, the NOP needs to review how certifiers are satisfying. From 238(d), “Organic livestock operations must have a comprehensive plan to minimize parasite problems” for recurring non-routine needs.

    Urge you to review the current TR template review process. The current process is biased in favor of the manufacturer and this is a mistake. Adding substances to the national list should be biased to the producers and operations needing the substance. The bias should not be toward the manufacturer wanting to sell their product. The growing of aquatic plants is part of our industry and I do not see where the value of CO2 in those systems… receive comment or it was considered in the current review. If you reject the petition, please note that the aquatic plant sector’s input was limited from that sector and should not be refused as an already denied substance as others have stated. While the industry is booming, our individual farmers are struggling. Every action the NOP takes requiring more time and paperwork up and down the supply chain can increase production costs without improving farm prices.

    SOE was significant and welcome, but it will raise operation costs in time and money while offering very little opportunity to increase prices received by organic producers. So at least consider this in your future rulemaking before our booming retail industry has no small US farmers supplying it.

    A petition requesting Meloxicam has been added to be added to 603 as an oral pain relief medication is in the hands of the livestock subcommittee. Research and pain mitigation and animal care is far beyond where it was at the time of OFPA or even when the pain relief substances were finally added to the national list. Meloxicam is a substance that needs to be added now. Meloxicam as petition would be an oral treatment which is less stressful than another injection and it is more effective at pain relief than the allowed oral options. Relieves pain for a longer duration, requiring fewer treatments over a 24 h period. Meloxicam provides improved pain relief with less stress. Please add Meloxicam to the national list.

    Nate Powell Palm: Dan, thank you for your service to the board and your expertise today. Could you speak a little bit to how we can how certifiers can manage and review the use of parasiticides better. Is there a reasonable route to requiring more manure tests to try to see actual? Quantitative pest loads or what do you see as being the next step to improving?

    Dan: I’m not aware of that. Level of technology. I’m not aware of what’s really available there and the potential negatives or that would be involved. I would say that I think it’s more on the front inside of, of helping farmers prevent it. I’m not sure there’s a lot we can do in the case of an outbreak where a group of animals, need to be treated. But I think once that occurs, rather than just allowing it to become a routine non-routine use. That we work with the certifiers work with the farmers to get into their organic system plan how they’re going to minimize the need in the future.

    Brian: On parasiticides, we’re on it, and, sort of enlisted a, literature view of, all the different types of, approaches to parasite management and livestock. It’s a pretty big project. And if you can forward any, specific materials you have, particularly about like holistic, maybe non pesticide type of management for parasites in livestock. If you could forward that to Michelle, we really appreciate that. And then we, we can, you know, try to circulate that around and digest it within the board. So that’s really important stuff and and as one of our previous callers said you know we’ve been talking about this this issue for like 30 years and so it’s time.

    Dan: Yeah, I let me just say that the reason this comes up for me is because I was hired by Merck when they were at 1 point in time trying to get the awareness of fenbendazole into the market and I really emphasize to them the need to encourage farmers to develop that plan if they ever had if they had a situation where they needed it multiple times that it became that routine non-routine. And it just became aware to me that there didn’t seem to be a lot of interaction between the producers and the certifiers as that they’re even really needed to be a plan and what that plan would look like. It would be interesting to see what the NOP, if they surveyed certifiers to see what any of them are looking at as a plan now. Also, working with Merck, I told them that if they supported the plan position, it was going to improve your opportunity to stay in the market and stay on the national list as helping to be part of the solution and not just an out, that you’re trying to exploit a problem.

    Brian: Great. If you have anything on the elements of that plan, that’s what we’re trying to nail down here.

    Nate Lewis: Regarding Methionine and the Board’s decision to apply a restriction to that substance when it was listed in contrast to say vitamins and minerals, which are allowed without restrictions. And I’m curious if you could just kind of share some of the conversation. A short summary of what that conversation was like at the board. Why add a restriction to that essential amino acid.

    Dan: I do not think at that point in time it would have passed without a restriction. Synthetic amino acids are not something that was going to be allowed. It took a great amount of education and fighting battles to get it where it was. We encouraged the industry that a fence was going to have to be put up. They came to us with a number of different ways – just adding methionine, the amount in diets, cystine methionine – it created a lot of problems that they kept changing the target. We wanted to get it on the list, and I think we reviewed methionine 3 times while I was on the Board. What we put up them seemed reasonable at the time, but we knew that it might not be the right one. I know that a couple of years ago there were some issues in chickens due to having raise the level of protein. Those are issues that need to be discussed. I do not think that there are many people that would say that the fence that we put up was only to be reduced. I think that if people showed the need for it to be raised a bit, I think that is what we intended. We wanted to get it on the list. If we aren’t going to allow any animal slaughter products, then there was no other way to balance the ration. I mean, my basic is an animal nutritionist. I’m more dairy than poultry, but when you look at the numbers, there’s no way in a natural ration with no slaughter products and no animal products account for the worms that in a normal bird…I won’t say that…but birds can get you know, and an area of ground can only hold so many earthworms. We had to do something, or we felt we had to do something. It certainly had its objectors, but that was the parameter. We worked with the industry and their task force extensively to try and figure out what those were. But we were very comfortable with this might be the wrong number and it may be pushed in we may be able to pull it pull it in we may need to push it out but let’s see what it would take.

    For a reasonable amount for the industry getting away from them looking at birds as purely a financial number and having to maintain conventional conversion rates and all those things. This was a number that we felt was reasonable and that’s what we, were trying to look for.It may have been wrong. And when you look at some of the animal welfare comments, maybe it is. You know, but there’s a lot of different interests that have to be considered to come up with a reasonable pragmatic compromise that may evolve over time, but that’s where we set what we did. You know, back in back in those days.

    Nate Powell Palm: A bit you said something that really sparked kind of a passion point of mind which is animal welfare inorganic. And I think when we talk about things like parasiticides, fenbendazol, moxidectin, you know, maloxicam, these pain mitigation strategies, we’re talking about animal welfare. We’re talking about asking these animals to be in service to our human needs and how can we make it easier on them. And I was wondering why or how you think we can start talking more about organic being an animal welfare standard that we have the tools to make an excellent life for these food producing animals. How can we start engaging that more authentically and bring that to be a bigger piece of awareness for the organic seal.

    Dan: That’s a tough question. From the standpoint that it is hard to hold on to great organic ideas for ourselves. I’ve been to conferences where sub through period levels of antibiotics was when it was the routine part of all of you know conventional agriculture across all sectors. And it was really apparent in the discussions and I think we, I even asked a question and the commenters admitted, you know, it was the crutch to maintain the level of production they wanted in the environmental state they put the animals in. But since then, we don’t have nearly that level of sub therapeutic antibiotic use or you know different things so it you know we’re getting to it in a lot of different ways. We’re getting it into it in in lower animal density. We’re getting it into it with cleaner environments. We’re getting it into a lot of different ways. Problem is that every time we have a great idea it’s gonna get used everywhere. And a number of the things that organics took back from the fifties and livestock farming. I have that we’re totally lost are now routine again as if they were always there. So, you know, I think it’s a matter of trying to decide what we can do best. But we do need some things, you know, Oh, I remember when I was on the board, Hugh Karreman was always adamant of a particular substance on the crop list that would help keep snails and then liver flukes out of pastures from wetlands. You know, so it it’s doing all those different kind of things, how can we then explain that to the consumer. And then own animal welfare. I don’t really know. I know that all the animal welfare organizations that have picked up since even though organic is always had tried to kind of own. As a standard between conventional and additional animal welfare. I mean, I know one dairy farmer, he sells to a process to a broker and he has to have, I think, 4 different animal welfare reviews because that’s all the review the agencies that the different end users, the different in processors, want to be able to say they have. So, how to keep it back all in organic and, show that we’re the groundwork of it. Every time we have a great idea, it’s gonna get, it’s gonna get taken up and used in the market.

    Well, the one difference though, the one difference though is that organic is more of an end. So, that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s the product. It’s a production system, but it’s that marketing standard. It does not. And I don’t think it should. I agree with you, but I don’t think it should become the details of production that some of these label certificates try to tell producers. How to get something done. Not that it needs to get done, but they’re trying to tell them how to get something done.

    Kim: We’re hitting all the highlighted topics of the research priorities of the livestock subcommittee and the livestock sub is very near and dear to my heart. While we’re on that concept, can we follow up with you regarding some of the nutritional packages, both in the dairy and in the poultry segment, and discuss regionally adaptable feed formulations and how we can use rotational crops to better provide optionality in somebody’s organic diets to create some stability in the marketplace. Do you feel like there’s, like I said, that’s a research priority of ours. Do you feel like there’s runway for improvement? In the feed formulation side with organic products.

    Dan: Well, I think there’s always area for improvement. We always wanna look for it where we can. It’s very difficult to 1) assess mineral status of a feed. The fact that we’re looking at multi crops with different species in it, that’s making it harder. Different areas in different soils and different temperatures and even different times of year are have different tie-ups with non nutritional items that can come up. Measuring the levels of a mineral in them is difficult and leveraging the availability of the minerals in those substances is even more difficult. So, it’s not that it’s a moving target. It’s just that it’s extremely difficult. I surveyed a number of nutritionists to a moving target, it’s just that it’s extremely difficult.

    They said sample all the feeds and take that number. Others would say sample all the feeds and cut that number in half. Others would say you can sample all the feeds and see whether anything’s really screwed up, but really the bi-availability on a lot of those is going to be so low that you need to supplement for it anyway. So, assessing all those variables into what the animal actually needs to be properly absorbed in the body is going to make that extremely difficult. And the problem on the research level is that for the most part that is not for lack of a better word, that’s not a patentable item. Most of the research that done is driven through grants from companies. There’s very little unattached do the best thinking you can grant money that used to come from the federal government.

    For instance, when I was in grad school, that money was not there. So, in order to get the money to do this kind of work, I don’t know where you’d be looking to get a good continual supply of it to conduct a research program.

    Kyla: Okay, I, I do have one question. And that is the from my experience and understanding in certification and talking with some other certifiers, the parasite prevention plan and their practices around preventative measures are all included in the organic system plan. And routine use is there and it is obviously prohibited. And if it is routinely used, a non-compliance is issued. I’m wondering, from your experience, are you seeing this? Is there an issue here? There is an ACA best practice on this, and I think that most ACAs are following this. Can you help me understand it better? Is there a problem that we need to solve?

    Dan: I think, you know, there are some operations that are routinely trying to do the best they can. Others are just doing something as they feel they need it. I think, if anything, the use of parasiticides, good or bad, is probably underutilized to the benefit of the animal. Because producers are wanting to maintain the option and the opportunity for organic slaughter. I’m not going to say that the animals are being abused because of that and anything is being missed, but I think that if we had a better understanding of what it would take and how to help the animals along, maybe we can encourage a more proper use of these. It’s not to say that we’re going to have them used everywhere and not to say that we’re opening it up on the beef side, but I think an overall understanding.

    I really wonder sometimes how aware each individual producer really was of the fact that ivermectin was coming off the list. If they had been needing something, and that was the only thing on the list, and then it was no longer there.

    Matt Begley – Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (LS, MS)

    OEFFA materials review specialist. Peracetic acid, methionine, and CO2. Peracetic acid is essential, want it to remain on NL. The listing restricts the use but does not contain a prohibition against direct contact with animals. Weve had requests that peracetic acid be used to clean milking rolling brushes – we don’t allow this because it leads to contact with animal teats, but there could be inconsistency in how it’s used because the annotation does not include this.

    Methionine is necessary and supplementation is necessary, especially because the standards restrict animals to a vegetarian diet. Organic sources could be allowed with no restriction on amount fed. We support slaughter byproducts used for methionine with a hierarchy of organic sources then natural then synthetic.

    With respect to greenhouse standards, we do not support the use of fossil fuel byproducts.

    Logan: Question about the CO2. You are against adding it to the list? Any alternatives that are being used? Usually can vent greenhouses, but during colder weather going to have issue of lowering temperature. Most of green houses around here don’t have that issue. Any alternatives?

    Matt: don’t really. Don’t know what people are doing.

    Joe Freeze – Albert Lea Seed (CACS)

    I’ve been in seed business for 54 years and organic for 15 years. Concerned about the imports of organic seed. Currently 70% of soy and 30% of corn is imported without the control the American organic farmer has to put up with. This creates major issues. There are inconsistencies in price for these commodities. The organic seed rule: keep hearing they want to strive toward organic seed only. The organic seed industry as far as row crops are concerned – capable of creating all the seed needed. But we are allowing almost 40% of the seed to come from conventional non0GMO. The investment into organic seed is higher, yields are probably lower. We have the ability and just need a year or two gear up for row crops. Can’t speak to vegetable side of the organic world. I don’t think certifiers understand the seed arena well.

    Wood: Curious about the cost barriers for more producers in US involved in seed production. Why not enough or is there enough seed production? Why domestic seed producers not getting into business.

    Joe: Talking about 1/5% of total acres. As far as seed production, both have to come in non-GMO, and that creates issues for genetic developer and they are trying to develop traits in. Basically it’s more difficult to raise seeds organically. It requires more of an investment. Industry is capable of producing enough organic seed if row crop certified organic, but need year or 2 heads up.

    Alison: Area learning a lot about. Did you say supplying 40% of conventional seed market? Organic producers one of market, are others buying untreated seed? How can we grow your market opportunities?

    Joe: companies like pioneer and LG cover about 40% of organic corn market. It’s hard for smaller companies.

    Kim: Outside of price, what are other barriers to growing organic beans in U.S.?

    Joe: price stability is so important. Weed control issues involved and quite frankly it’s the soybean prices last couple of years have gone from 20-35 over last year.

    Kim: Are there challenges throughout the growing cycle? Price aside, are there other challenges that disincentive farmers from growing beans?

    Joe: Weed control is a big challenge. Basically speaking there is some reluctance b/c want to look good with neighbors and incentives for growing soybeans organically – no stability to it.

    Peter Gunther – Organic Producer (CACS)

    Organic farmer in Texas, peanuts, corn, wheat and hay. Certified since 2013 – organic is a game changer. Big issue is unfair competition form imports. Testing to make sure imports coming in over the boarder are legitimate. There are resources for helping transitioning farmers, but we need to have a market there for them when they finish transitioning. Appreciate CACS work to address these issues.

    Kim: Where do you farm in TX? Any of the fires impact you? When you look at growing markets and outlets for your products, where do your products go, and do you have any logistics – rail vs. truck – any kind of bottlenecks in that space to help get your products to where they need to go to grow the market?

    Peter: West TX. No fires around me. The peanuts they go to a local buying point and get shipped to various buyers. Don’t have an issue with trucking; don’t do anything with rail. The hay gets sold to local organic dairies and feed lots. We do have an issue – we have been gettinga lott of hay imported from MX and that cut our hay market in half last year. Peanuts: never seen a decrease in demand for US-grown peanuts and we did this year. About 2 months ago when they hand out contracts – we,ve never been shorted on that and this year they cut most farmers on acres and price. Told the reason is because the demand is not there. I know there are a lot of peanuts being imported and cannot compete at the levels. Our conventional prices are close to the cost of organic imports, even including shipping costs. We cant compete.

    Kim: I want to highlight diversity of farming operations and locations that are having import issues.

    Amy: Actually Kim touched on my question. Wanted overview of peanut market. Defer to Nate.

    Nate Powell-Palm: Could you speak a little to assertions made that American farmers are disadvantaged. How good are we at growing peanuts?

    Peter: my understanding that a lot of the peanuts coming from other countries the quality isn’t great. Think what they are doing – can’t prove it – they are taking those peanuts form overseas and blending them with American peanuts. There is nothing proving that they are organic. We have so many restrictions – takes more money to grow crop here. Can’t say other peanuts can grow more of them, but if they are not held to the same standards we are they can grow them cheaper.

    Nate Powell-Palm: So there is not an obvious reason they are cheaper so the question is whether those peanuts are coming in legitimately.

    Peter: Correct. IT takes so much manual labor and equipment – I am sure in other countries their labor forces are cheaper. Yes there are things they can do cheaper, but we are not on a level playing field. We have more things we need to abide by – which is great we need that. Other countries don’t have things keeping them in check or accountable. Why are we pushing the AMerican farmers so hard to be legitimate when imports are not. Unfair for American farmers. Hard enough with inflation and everything.

    Tracey Dion – organic producer (CACS)

    Family and I converted farm to certified organic in 2017. Coming from traditional sugar beets – all organic farmers are having a ripple effect. Organic benefits everyone and consumer knows it. Consumer places confidence in us and hats off to founders who pioneered growing techniques. American organic farmers are most efficient and highest producers. Facing serious problem – imported organic grains are being brought in cheaper. American producers love competition but have to compete on a fair playing field. Organic imports should be scrutinized at same level. Excited NOSB is discussing testing. Montana lost export market to Italy. Astounds me that Europe is testing everything we send them, but we are hardly testing. We need to do better than 5% testing. We need a fair playing field.

    Nate Powell-Palm: You speak to a lot of the questions coming up in the public comments – American farmers are very good at growing what we do. Is the comments we’ve been hearing is that American farmers are happy to compete but that we want a fair playing field, correct?

    Tracey: you are hearing me right.

    Guy Jodarski – CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley (LS; MS)

    My name is, yep, my name is Guy Jodarski. I represent crop cooperative organic valley. Thank you to the NOP and the board. For the chance to provide comments on behalf of our cooperative. I work as a veterinarian for our farmer members and with cooperative staff in the area of animal health. I lead our veterinary team that works with farmers, industry partners, and allied academic researchers. I also serve on the livestock advisory panel for OMRI, and help review materials and inputs for use in organic livestock production.

    In regard to meloxicam, Organic Valley submitted a petition to the NOP to add meloxicam to the national list. The veterinary team at Organic Valley fully supports this petition. We believe this material will provide organic producers an improved tool to reduce pain and suffering of livestock. Meloxicam is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent less likely to cause side effects than the currently available option flunixin.

    Meloxicam can control pain, inflammation, and fever. It is widely used in humans, animals, and nonorganic dairy production. It’s long duration of activity and ease of administration support the fact that meloxicam provides pain control for livestock superior to the currently available options allowed for organic production.

    Regarding sunset materials, we support Re-listing the following materials currently being reviewed for possible sunset. Atropine as an antidote for poisoning, hydrogen peroxide and iodine, essential for wound care, surgical procedures and equipment disinfection, magnesium sulfate for medical treatment. Tolazoline and xylazine are essential for humane delivery of surgical procedures, trace minerals and vitamins for nutritional support for immune function and essential supplementation.

    We support re-listing fenbendazole and moxidectin on the national list. Good management eliminates the need for parasiticides in most cases. However, when management practices fail and parasitism is severe, there’s a need for synthetic treatments as natural alternatives often fail. Under these conditions. In response to the questions regarding these materials. Are there suggestions to improve the annotation? The annotation could outline guidelines for emergency treatment. For example, documentation of parasite load by fecal examination, evidence of severe physical signs, and or veterinary recommendation. Which age class of animals do certifiers see their clients requesting approval for emergency parasiticide use? Severe clinical parasitism is seen almost exclusively in 6- to 18-month-old cattle. An exception being lung worms, which affect both young stock and mature cattle.

    Thank you. For the opportunity to provide testimony to the board. I’m happy to answer any questions.

    Nate Powell-Palm: We had great convo earlier about animal welfare. How do we get the consumer aware of all that goes into animal welfare and it seems it’s never a consideration when pitching to consumer?

    Guy: Topic was seized by conventional and large organic producers who designed cert systems that were advantageous to large operations in regard to record keeping, data, etc. Freedom animals have, grazing, soil, env have been missed and caught in bureaucracy and bias to large operations in certification system.

    Ty O’Connor – organic producer (CACS)

    Farmer from MT, organic grain, pulses, and cattle on 53k acres. We use the cattle as a crucial part of our cropping system. The last couple of years we added at USDA org certified beef, sheep and pork slaughtering facility. Excited to see USDA invest in organic via organic transition initiative. One concern: NRCS/EQIP is not being rolled out in MT. Only given 30 days to apply – we only get 10 inches of MT. The EQIP money would certainly increase transition but farmers in MT are not being given the chance to participate in the program. Hoping the whole organic community can open up 823 program again in all states. Also the deadline needs to be published. Farmers need a fair chance to sign up for this.

    Brian: intrigued to hear processing facility includes hogs. What do you see market and barrier to be for organic?

    Ty: we are not raising organic pork b/c we do not want to add another wrinkle of ferreting hogs out. We don’t run organic pork.

    Wood: can you say more about slaughterhouse? Did you self-finance?

    Ty: We self-financed. I put a ranch up for collateral. I thought this would put us about 6 steps ahead in marketing and selling and we found out right back where started. We are doing non-organic product from the ranch. Organic product is pretty much going online right now. Thought we would be taking couple steps forward by eliminating middle men, but hard to get into big grocery stores.

    Nate Powell Palm: 823 is effort by USDA to make transition easier. I worry, that on paper there isn’t alot of interest. Are there a lot of acres hunting for this kind of support?

    Ty: I would say a lot of acres would be ready to sign up.

    Brian: A lot of acres would sign up Sign up period was so short. I think it needs to be opened up.

    Lance Bruch – Farmer (CS)

    Northwest Iowa. Ton of organic around here. Good crop and good ground. All of that helps with efficiencies. All said, biggest challenge is the pricing. Last year selling beans for 35-40 bucks and now half. Want to make sure foreign stuff is getting tested. Every load I send out is tested. WE need to do a better job of testing the foreign stuff. All on same page – when prices change, you figure what’s going on? We can produce good crop. Raising soybeans for $20 is a real challenge. At end of day doesn’t work out very well.

    Kim: hard for farmers to be engaged, appreciate time. Do most of row crops go to food or feed outlets and have you seen change in outlets for crops?

    Lance: Most for feed. Neighbors doing food grade. I don’t. Most of mine is feedstuff.

    Kim: You truck your products directly?

    Lance: Correct. Enough acres around here that it has helped. Most of my corn goes 30 miles. Beans are maybe 50. If want to have stuff picked up that is an option. Logistically, in good shape. When raising good crops, nice to get fair price for them. Want tighter security for them.

    Nate Powell-Palm: tell us more about area you farm in?

    Lance: east 24-40 miles, can drive by many organic farms. Growing every year. Got started in late 90s that went organic and basically why I started was neighbors and how i got into it. Everybody talks to everybody.

    Nate Powell Palm: How good are your yields?

    Lance: We’re in a good spot. Excellent farmland. Beans were 55 or something like that. Fertility is good. Land is good.

    Nate Powell-Palm: Sounds like 100,000 plus acres. Sounds like we can raise feedstuffs right here in America.

    Lance: If price is better, more want to do it. Could absolutely raise enough here. Raise crops here instead of getting from wherever.

    Amy: I just wanted to learn more about Lance’s area. Thanks.

    Steve Boyda – Organic producer and OFARM (Organic Farmers Agency for Relationship Marketing) (CS, General)

    Oregon field crops in Kansas. Serve as secretary of OFARM.

    Intro and affiliation: Organic field crops producer in NE Kansas growing primarily corn, wheat and soybeans which are the staple crops for this region. I am commenting today on behalf of field crop producers who comprise the collective membership of OFARM – – where I serve as president.

    The primary concern for our membership is the devastating market impact from the continuing flow of imported organic feedstuffs. Markets for the primary feed grains have fallen to levels that come near and are, in some cases. even below actual production costs.

    As we mentioned in our written comments, this dismal market picture is causing some certified producers to abandon their organic commitment and certainly is putting a damper on increasing acreage through new transition. While we fully embrace the concept that it is much more than just a better market, economic viability is still the driving factor in making the final transition decision.

    While we applaud the many, and often successful, initiatives to provide for transition assistance through new and creative government programs such as greater assistance through NRCS and improvements to federal crop insurance program to better serve organics the long-term viability of and organic operation is still based on economic profitability.

    We fully support efforts underway to bring more extensive residue testing into the picture. However, enacting significant change still has many hurdles to overcome. One area that could have a more immediate impact is to more fully utilize existing authority for sampling and testing.

    The much needed, and now enacted, elements of the SOE have paved the way for greater scrutiny. The question is, are we fully using the surveillance authority the SOE created. Much is said about risk-based decisions about where to use this authority. Obviously, with the recent increase in imports from Africa, the horse left the barn long before a mass balance audit can be completed.

    Let me put it in a farmer’s term: if it looks like something is wrong and it smells like something is wrong it is time to check out why. This is accomplished by a ‘boots on the ground’ examination of the source of irregularity.

    Obviously, the NOP now has significantly increased capacity to perform on their obligation as the organic industry watchdog. Added certifier scrutiny, enhanced inspector training and initiatives to establish mass balance audits are all plausible efforts. It does appear, however, that the actual intervention in questionable activities still remains somewhat limited. While there is some, sometimes legitimate, concern for government over-reach, in our humble collective opinion, there is plenty of opportunity to examine areas that just simply don’t add up or smell right.

    So, what is our ask in this setting with the NOSB?

    We believe there is room for a greater direct interaction in the NOP processes. You spend significant time on evaluation of the ingredient lists. Is the evaluation of NOP process and procedure subjected to that level of scrutiny? Possibly the NOP oversite should be a higher priority for study and debate. Thus, more specific guidance could be issued and the whole arena of the surveillance required could be significantly improved. It would appear that there is, at least, some opportunity for improvement in the NOSB oversite the NOP.

    One final comment would be this. In the interest of satisfying the consumer desire to know the source of their food we believe a strong statement by the NOSB in support of Country of Origin labeling would be in order.

    Amy: Look at SOE and final rule talks about complex supply chains and when talking about this, just curious why there is a need for a supply chain for grains?

    Steve: I look at it from a producer – with SOE – I am going to have to put labels on all of my storages areas. How do you do that on a barge that comes over from the Ukraine? There has to be more complexity. There are too many possibilities for greed and fraud to take place, and I wish that the same scrutiny was imposed on imports as domestic production.

    Nate Lewis: Do you have any specific things that you would suggest testing for?

    Steve: Residue testing on spraying for pests. There is a long way to ship from there to here, and I think there might be stuff being sprayed. Also, for herbicide residue. You can plant nonGMO, and it will show nonGMO, but you can put a lot of sprays on that to keep the weeds out.

    Mark Smith – organic producer (CACS)

    Livestock producer with Montana Organic Producer Coop. Want to comment on the importance of the Board supporting more and better ways of educating the public on what organic is and isn’t. I’ve been certified for 17 years, and we continually see the confusion at the consumer level. We encourage that we would support an education program on what organic is. Even organic producers seem to be a little confused. This is organic sour cream (shows container), but this particular producer wants to be able to say that it is “beyond organic” right on the same container. That is something that the person making the sour cream wouldn’t feel compelled to say that it is “beyond organic” if there was a better understanding by the public of what organic is. I would like to point this out, because I think there is a substantial amount of confusion in the marketplace. A thorough and robust campaign of educating consumers of what organic is. I run into this all of the time when I’m selling organic beef, especially with other producers saying that they are as good as organic, but if consumers really understood organic, that wouldn’t be an issue.

    Jerry: We have an internal rule that we aren’t supposed to comment to commentors. Thank you for your comments.

    Dilip: I wanted to share as you know a lot of land grant universities are offering courses and extensions conducting workshops through various forms of conveying message about organic. What other forms of education?

    Mark: I’m not trying to say that there is an absolute failure. Boseman has a whole 4-year degree on this subject matter, so we are working from the ground up on that. But I’m hoping we can double the amount that is out there, because I’ve run into this all of my organic career, which is fairly substantial.

    Dilip: Programs in rural areas not able to reach.

    Mark: general population as a whole, we pioneered meat producer at home show. Seems there is still cloud of confusion about why natural isn’t just as good as organic.

    Nate Powell Palm: I’d like to highlight that I’d like to see more props. When you’re thinking of talking to your consumers, what are your main hooks that excites them the most about organic?

    Mark: I believe it is 2-fold – clean – free of all pesticides, herbicides – and hormones. Many of my customers have children, and they’re concerned about this 7-8-9-year-old onset of puberty. Those two things. Those “natural” guys can say that it’s just as good as organic, but they use growth hormones. Their mineral supplement is made with the residue from sugar beet factories, and those are GMO sugar beets.

    Jerry: Remind us all that you didn’t show us a confused consumer; you showed us producer confusing consumers. We need to clean up our own house and speak from same voice and then I think consumer will fall in line.

    Mark: I think the only thing that is beyond this “beyond organic” is that he says that his cows are all grassfed. That might be the only thing that is “beyond organic,” but I’m a 100% grassfed organic farmer, but I do not feel the need to say that I’m “beyond organic” because it’s all there is ORGANIC.

    Franklin: I received a call about relationship between sustainable, climate smart, organic, and regenerative – how are these related? We need to let people know what is what. Confusion on all sides.

    Mark: Fantastic, because organic is sustainable, and now it’s starting to be drafted. We have to monitor and treat our ecosystems and do everything that we can think of possible to ensure that we are being responsible, sustainable. The organic program is doing it.

    Kyla: Are you aware the NOP recently launched a tool kit aimed at consumers and retailers? Education campaign available.

    Mark: I saw it attached to an email, and I didn’t open it. I was aware of it, but I didn’t open it.

    Kyla: I’m dropping a link in the chat for everyone; spread the word. [Link: USDA Certified Organic: Understanding the Basics | Agricultural Marketing Service]

    Jess Alger – organic producer (CACS)

    I raise cattle and grain. Member of Montana Org Production Coop and on board for National Farmers Coalition.

    I’m here to support using testing as a tool to level the playing field for organic feed grains. The imports flood our market, and that’s not good. EU and Canada test our products, but we don’t test theirs much. I’ve heard others talk about testing, and we need to do that. If USDA mandated testing of imports, it seems it would be a lot more fair. There are many leaving organic because of low grain prices. They’re good farmers, and it’s not fair right now. Testing grain is a way that we can ensure that the market is fair.

    I also hear that cooking oil is coming in from China and making the soybean market fall off. That’s not good. I feel that if you had an announcement to the countries that we are going to actually start testing these grains, that might help, and then we should start doing it. They are brining conventional grain into the US and killing our organic market with imported grain.

    Nate Powell Palm: You mentioned the level playing field. I think we’ve heard a lot from folks saying that we want a fair shake. Can you speak to the opportunity that you see for organic for those other farmers who aren’t getting a fair crack at it? Do you think the organic market would grow domestically if there was a level playing field?

    Jess: Yes, I do.

    Mark Holoubek – Seed Salesman ‐ Seitec (CACS)

    Live in Nebraska. Farmer. Certified Crop Advisor. Row crop organic producers in Midwest are under duress. Sell in 8 states and as far east as Illinois. This year have lost growers in 3 states. Customer that just cancelled and three growers cancelled last week. Things are tough. I went to college when things were good in 1977. Started farming in the 80s. Things aren’t that bad but they are tough. Level playing field is what we’re after. As supplier for organic seed, I share that. Growers I work with and some of best. I was organic grower a year ago. Was executive director of Nebraska soybean board. Have all kinds of seeds available b/c seeds are less this year. Applaud for efforts to suppor the industry.

    Kim: Have you seen any changes in the people that you are selling to or the demand side of the market?

    Mark: My guys are having trouble getting paid. They are carrying organic dairies for months at a time. Taking contractual payments. From the grain side, we’ve had some people go out of business. It’s harder to get paid. Business is slow. Compared to the 1980s crash, it’s not that bad, but it’s closer than people want to realize. Things are going to be tough this year and I think people are going to come up short.

    Amy: Wish better news is ahead for you. You mention about organic seed and that you have tons available. Can you talk about viability and performance of organic seed?

    Mark: Bottom line is that it’s about the genetics. We are licensed with every supplier of elite seeds from all over the world. We also have our own proprietary line. We have absolutely elite genetics without the traits in them. That’s why we have customers in so many states. The genetics side is there, if people want to work with it, and they compete with leading genetics.

    Lynn Clarkson – Clarkson Grain (CACS)

    CEO. Based in Illinois – buy condition and process organic corn and soy with clients domestic and foreign. We used to import crops now we don’t. Testing for residues we find things not allowed in the USA – not allowed anywhere in the world except Brazil. My confidence in imported crops is less than 50%. We quit selling imported because we cannot trust it. Cheating is easy proving it is difficult. Commercial codes and functioning judicial system in the US punishes fraud. But in countries supplying most of our organic products there are no protections or enforcement of fraud. There is little that disincentivizes them.

    Randy Constant is the poster child of domestic fraud. Had Randy been a foreign supplier he would still be operating, free to still commit fraud, bribe, threaten, etc. I know Randy’s behavioral cousins in imports. Recommend we test all crops coming into USA for pesticides residues. Regard Indvidual suppliers as part of the environment we come from – remove certification from suppliers where countries do not enforce.

    Nate Powell Palm: When you think about the ability of American farmers to meet the needs of your demand, do you think they can do it?

    Lynn: Absolutely, no question. US producers can overwhelm it. The transition phase puts a lot off people off. Comments you heard earlier about inconsistency in prices – in general correct. Soybean prices have dropped back down to 18-20 dollars. Need a reliable range of prices. This is 200 percent variation. We see organic with over 200 bushel per acre.

    Kim: Logistical infrastructure in the organic product movements: Can you weigh in on using organic grains within the US and if you see any restraints with that today?

    Lynn: there are some structural issues re: where grain is raised. Cost of moving material by land moving from Midwest to coast is almost identical moving by water from other countries to the U.S. difficulty in matching logistics cost once they get to water. We don’t use our coastlines well to serve selves. Very few facilities set up to use rail. Trucking costs are very high.

    Marni Karlin – ACA (CACS)

    [Note that this speaker provided their comments in full to Cornucopia which we have copied here.]

    Hi, I’m Marnie Carlin. I’m a consultant here today representing the Accredited Certifiers Association. Today I’m going to comment on considering certifier perspectives, residue testing, and comments to the open docket.

    First, considering certifier perspectives. As my colleague Ellie noted on Tuesday, certifiers are experiencing stress and fatigue as the complexity of certification increases, creating continued intense pressure. ACA members are fully committed to organic integrity and our role in service of that integrity. While Ellie noted our commitment to building capacity, I’d like to note another important piece of this puzzle, ensuring that any new regulatory or legislative mandates that might add to the complexity and pressure of certification are developed with the benefit of certifiers perspectives. We often talk about the public-private partnership and the importance of farmers in trade being at the table to ensure that regulators and legislators consider the real-world impact of policy change. We also need to be sure certifiers are at that table, bringing their real world perspective. Without the certifier voice represented from the beginning, we risk creating mandates that are not feasible or unnecessarily place more stress and pressure on the system.

    Of course, this is really a call out to ourselves and it’s true that we are already very ably represented here on the board and are proud of our strong partnership and working relationship with the NOP. The ACA commits to building on these strengths and engagement with other policy makers and stakeholders. Together, we must think critically about moving further toward a risk-based certification system that protects organic integrity while being appropriate to the needs and risk factors of all certified operations.

    Residue testing. We appreciate the expertise the CACS subcommittee has put into its work on residue testing. An updated testing program can help certifiers verify compliance and deter fraud. If something isn’t truly organic, it should not be in the organic supply chain. Such a testing program must also be feasible, particularly when certifiers are implementing the largest update to the organic regulations in 20 years. We must be mindful of human capital and other resource constraints and user risk-based lens for compliance verification.

    Certifiers perspectives must be considered in development of any uptake updated residue testing program. We are critical to verifying compliance and best understand pressures on the system that must be considered. We respectfully requested that discussion of this topic continue in the fall to allow time for certifiers perspectives to be included in a risk-based approach to residue testing. This would also allow the work to be informed by the sector’s experience in implementing some of the new tools from SOE, such as supply chain traceability audits and other tools designed to remove fraud from organic supply chains so we can see what’s working and where further checks may be needed to protect integrity.

    And finally, comments to the open docket. As you know, the short window for comments in advance of this meeting fell immediately after the SOE implementation deadline. And ACA members were understandably fully focused on SOE impacts at that time. We commit to engaging with some of the important topics on this meeting’s agenda, such as updates to the TR and submitting comments to the open docket so the board to continue its important work.

    Thank you for your service and this opportunity to comment.

    Amy: You mentioned risk-based systems when we’re looking at residue testing. When we were looking at written comments, especially from inspectors, they talk about risk-based, as well. When we hear from our oral comments, we’re hearing that a lot of people in the handling space are doing their own testing. How do we get more testing instituted, especially on the imports? What’s the next step?

    Marni: A next step is letting SOE play out a little bit. That’s not the only one, but it’s a start. One piece is that SOE created so many new enforcement tools and closed so many loopholes, and we’ve had it in effect for 5 weeks, so getting the chance to see how that works is a critical piece. I hear you and I’ve heard the comments that it’s not enough, and I appreciate that. I have been appreciating getting the input and perspective of farmers on calls like this, as I’m not a farmer. I think that we can think creatively about what authority USDA already has regarding testing as tool when risk is understood. Certifiers can think about where we see risk and determine if we need to communicate better certifier-to-certifier about where we see risk. I think it’s important to think about risk and recognize that risk may exist in imports, but may also exist in domestic. And also understand certifier pressures and workloads and think seriously about how many people we have, how many testing facilities we have, and make sure that we build a system that we can implement.

    Amy: There were some comments regarding working groups that would be interested in helping to develop and be involved in some of these conversations, is that something that the ACA would be interested in having as part of the discussion?

    Marni: Our working groups almost always include inspector members, and we have been growing our membership to include other stakeholder groups. From the perspective of the ACA, we would be open to that.

    Kyla: I want to clarify that in order to be on an ACA working group, you do need to be a member.

    Marni: Correct. We also have an associate member that allows other stakeholders other than certifiers to be a part of the ACA.

    Kim: SOE takes time. What in your mind is effective amount of time that SOE will create change in marketplace?

    Marni: Work with certifiers and think about the incredible efforts they have put in to build systems. Wary of putting a clear time frame on it. Going to let SOE play out and see what other tools have. It could take a cycle of inspections to see if SOE is working. That is why my answer is not just wait and see a few years, but let it play out and see what certifiers need so we can talk through what this should look like.

    Kyla: I agree. At least a year for inspection cycle, and then there is also the certifier auditor cycling. If certifiers are not implementing SOE in a satisfactory manner, then there will be fallout from that. I think we will see some impact within one year time from implementation.

    Marni: In addition to what Kyla just said, I think that, as I understand it, NOP is already asking certifiers for information to demonstrate compliance and demonstrate that they have systems in place, so I think that those assessments are in progress. I think the time has started, but that it will take some time.

    Mindee: Thank you to ACA and all the certifiers. Presence of ACA has always been a helpful tool that’s helping with consistency issues. Always been a fan of ACA. Question is when ACA does do a working group, are they ongoing, how long to work internally and come back with info?

    Marni: The answer is, it depends. We do have some standing working groups that are ongoing that deal with ongoing topics. When I think about my comment that if we could pull together some thought around the TR template, that would be a finite WG to pull together comments and share them. We have been known to be very nimble and agile and move something in as little as 6 weeks to a couple of months. That takes a push, but it’s doable. When I made comments both in writing and orally that we would love to have the opportunity to have input, I would do so in a way that recognizes the process that is in place.

    John Sheppard – Organic Soybean Processors of America (CACS)

    Good afternoon. I’m John Shepherd, the director in the Domestic Trade Association.

    Organic soybean Processors of America or OSPA advocates for fair and free trade, specifically the advancement of safe, reliable, organic livestock feed. I’m also the president of Shepherd Grain Enterprises. Shepherd Grain has produced organic soybean meal for over 2 decades. Thank you for this opportunity to address the NOSB.

    Currently, the US organic soybean market is rife with fraud. In January, Ospel contracted with Agamaris to accomplish a mass balance analysis of African exports of organic soybean meal relative to available certified feedstock and production capabilities. The evidence is clear. There is no way all the meal is born of certified organic soybeans. My written submission highlights this effort and I encourage you to refer those comments. I prepared 2 slides to describe a snapshot of today’s US or organic soybean market. This information is derived from import info, a US Customs Import Data Reporting subscription.

    In 6 weeks, 41,510 metric ton of organic soybean meal was imported into the United States. This is an annual rate of 360,000 metric ton. 70% of the current US annual demand of organic Soybean meal. 60% was imported from Turkish ports originating through the Black Sea region. 35% came from Africa.

    The meals available to the US market is 70 to $90 a metric ton below the cost of producing domestic meal. That equates to nearly a $2 per bushel reduction of domestic soybean value. Or domestic crossers to match the importer pricing at the cost of production.

    The next slide shows bill of blading description examples of imported organic protein. Organic soybean meal is accompanied by the description non-GMO not treated with pesticide, which of course is innate. The truly born of circuit of certified organic soybeans. The import market currently has fraud competing against fraud for market share.

    Organic protein is exported. Prepaid. DTHC for sellers account. Organic meal is being pushed to the United States and sold on consignment. And why not? The exporting entities return US dollars. The downside risk is merely selling the claimed organic meal is conventional. The current US organic soybean market has devolved the lowest stabilization and immediate recovery effort should be made. Oxford supports the requirement for imported organic soybean meal to be laboratory tested for solvents.

    This could easily be implemented through the USDA and CBP. In addition, an audit of the 5 largest importers of organic soybean meal from seed to meal would renew consumer confidence and support its supply.

    Thank you.

    Nate Lewis: You mentioned synthetic solvents being a potential contaminant in “organic” soybean meal from overseas. Do you have information on industry-accepted methodologies that you could share with the Board?

    John: I’ve tested meal and seen tested meal and the solvent residual testing and it is widely known throughout US labs and easily accomplished.

    Nate Lewis: What Amy and I are working on, it would be really helpful for certifiers to have which specific types of laboratories detailed into some guidance documents so that they don’t have to google the information. We are trying to get down to the granular level. Appreciate your expertise.

    Amy: Mentioned solvents is a way to detect fraud in soybean meal. Are there other ways for comparing to look at other tests?

    John: A simple test is analyzing the retrained oil of organic SB meal. Mechanical processing is not going to get below 6%. If organic SB Meal is being pedaled as lower than 6%, then there’s an issue. Solvent extracted can get below 2%.

    Matt Nidlinger – CGB ‐ Consolidated Grain and Barge Co CACS)

    Organic grain manager. Joined organic market 4 years ago and procure organic grain in our elevators and distribute out in truck or rail where needed. Mostly in feed but some food as well. Fraud prevention – testing of organic grains. SOE is a step in the right direction. We need to test and insure authenticity through supply chain. We are testing every load for GMOs. Encourage NOSB to increase GMO testing standards. Chemical residue testing should be enhanced to prevent fraud from entering supply chain. Frequency of testing is now “when fraud is suspected” which is too late. We should proactively test for chemical residues and make those tests statistically relevant. Areas where there is suspected fraud should still be scrutinized but this shouldn’t t the be only basis for a test. Gene edited seed is going to be a problem upcoming. Issues are important to sustainability and integrity if the label.

    Kim: From your lens, as far as logistics of moving organic products to the end user – can you give perspective on bottle necks?

    Matt: Nowhere near as efficient as generic market. 7 of facilities we have certified are rail. We are primarily using rail and found that railroads do want additional business. We’ll try to continue to grow upon that.

    Kyla: Do you test for prohibited pesticides or solvents?

    Matt: one of largest exporters of identity preserved grains. Do testing as customers require. On organic side, haven”t’ ventured down that path. For chemical residue testing, it is not as feasible. GMO can have quick testing at facility.

    Garth Kahl – Common Treasury Farm, Independent Organic Services, Organic Integrity Cooperative Guild (CACS, CS, HS, LS)

    I wear many organic hats. I’m an organic grower stockman for 30 years, organic inspector and a consultant with the organic integrity cooperative guild. I want to thank you for the opportunity to call and as always thanks to the members for your service and the NOP staff for your support. You already have my written comments specifically on the CACS discussion documents residue testing for a global supply chain, and organic food system capacity and constraint. With respect to the former, I would draw your attention to the comments made by IOIA. Most importantly, we need new testing screens, particularly for synthetic solvent residues in processed animal feed. In this main I particularly want to applaud Amy Bruch for her work on that marker bill that will require more testing of bulk inputs. Go Amy.

    Mainly I want to talk about the capacity and constraints document and to raise the alarm about the stampede of organic livestock producers who are dropping certification or leaving livestock farming altogether. As anyone who works in organic certification will tell you, the last 3 years have seen a massive loss of organic dairy producers. The victims of a perfect storm, entrenched monopolistic conditions in the dairy processing market, huge spikes in energy and commodity prices and labor shortages. The handful of organic dairy producers I personally work with, who have granted certification in the last years and another is desperately trying to sell. The organic beef industry is even more dismal. Mainly because there really is no price premium for organic grass fed versus conventional grass fed beef.

    In part this comes from consumers not knowing the benefits of organic beef in addition to potentially fraudulent cattle chasing organic price premiums whenever they do a run. Well, conventional producers can use cheaper hay and hormones to facilitate breeding and conventional parasitizing fly control.

    I’ve personally seen nearly a dozen cow crop operators who have decided that, “Organic just isn’t worth it.” We in the realm of organic enforcement have done very little to address this crisis, and, in many ways, have made it worse.

    In an attempt to address procedural fraud, our response has been a raft of new record keeping requirements and multiple updates to growers OSPs. The NOPs 2023 livestock memo, the SOE and the OLPS all hit producers like a hailstorm when they were recovering from the tornado that was the pandemic and inflation.

    Unfortunately, the NOP guidance and certifiers interpretation of the new standards are becoming increasingly prescriptive and less willing to accommodate the differences between operation. This is not sound or sensible. Larger operators simply hire nutritionists to document grazing compliance and continually update OSP document. Smaller operators must mostly suffer, and worse, receive non-compliances for small record keeping lapses that don’t really reflect a breach of organic integrity.

    Thank you very much. I welcome any questions.

    Amy Bruch: I wanted to just ask you if you could walk us through some of the inspections that you’ve done, especially at ports of entry with imported products and just how that testing procedure can happen.

    Garth: So, you know, ship that are moving bulk product are imminently trackable. If, for example, an organic importer were to tell their certifier they had an organic bulk ship coming, it’s very easy to track that vessel with free apps. Once is arrives, the key issue is getting access to the port. There’s a card that you have to have, and once you have been authorized by the shipping agent, you can go to the gate, you can say I want to go visit the General Hudson that’s at Pier 5. You can walk out there with your hard hat and your high visibility vest. At that point you go, you identify yourself to the marine surveyors, who are basically doing the same. You say, “Hi, my name is Garth, and I need to take a sample of this product” or “I need to observe when you open the holds that the product wasn’t in some other way contaminated.” It’s not particularly difficult. State agencies are already doing inspections of ships for pests or they’re doing inspections of ships that are leaving for grain. It’s not a big lift for the shipping companies or the ports. You need to work with the shipping agent. And the importer. The key is the importer needs to be required to inform the certifier when the ship leaves the destination or the port of origin so that the certifier can work with inspectors to get somebody there at the right time. But once you know, you know, the General Hudson is coming, it left Turkey on this date, it’s easy enough to get on the app and say, oh, yep, there it is. Okay, oh, it’s cruising up the East Coast. Oh, it’s gonna go into New York. It’s gonna go into New Jersey or wherever it’s going. So it’s it’s not particularly difficult. It just is an area where organic inspectors haven’t worked much up until this point.

    Nate Powell Palm: Going back to your dairy comment; For so long, it seems like producers in the organic community have been pointing fingers at other producers – They’re not grazing. They’re cheating – as opposed to the buyer, who seems to have a lot more control over how this market works and who gets access to it. What do you see as the next step to making the dairy market more fair so that we can keep producers in the space and not lose them either out of livestock production or out of organic.

    Garth: There’s several things. I mean, someone, a previous commenter talked about the farm crisis in the 80s. I mean, honestly, the farm crisis in the eightys, you couldn’t haul milk from California Arizona and dump it into the Northeast because you know even in the 1930s the Roosevelt didn’t figured out that it costs more money to produce, you know, 100 pounds of milk in the northeast than in California or Arizona. You know, in a best case scenario, we could do that in the organic market, you know, absolutely. Now that’d be a big lift and it would require an act of Congress, but you know, in the ideal we could go back to the 1930.

    Organic market and have some regional price supports. If borrowing that, I think we need the same kind of targeted grants that the USDA is doing now to increase the ability for local dairies or local dairy cooperatives small groups of operators to do local bottling plants, to do value-added, to do ice cream, to do cream, to do yogurt. That’s a huge lift. You know, I work with a hundred cow dairy. She really, really, really wanted to do a bobbling plant. She ended up going out of business before these, you know, before the recent rounds and grants came out from the USDA. But something like that could have saved her. The ability to, you know, market local grass-fed milk to a local market through local retailers or even at farmers markets would be huge.

    So, you know, those are those are 2 solutions. There’s probably more, but, but we need ultimately to look at the economics of it because as you say, it’s not good.

    I can’t help but make another pitch for town and sensible. I mean, there’s no reason we need to look at risk based analysis. People say this, we hear it every meeting, but in reality you know the rubber hits the road on dairy producers. Dairy producers work harder than honestly anybody I know and a small dairy producer like that added paperwork burden or that you know added 2 hours to that inspection because that’s what it takes. That’s a real burden. And when you’re already getting, you know, pumped around by everything else, it feels like yet another, you know, incoming punch. So, I, you know, obviously we need integrity. We need to, you know, ensure that the trace ability is there. But there’s got to be a way to do this in a risk-based manner, so we’re not beating up on people.

    Luke Giannforte – organic producer (CACS)

    Certified org farmer in NY, certified for 25 years. Small grains. Focus on food-grade but also sell feed and seed. Received organic market development grant which we will use to improve on-farm processing for products we sell to organic dairies. These grants are a great tool. The smaller simplified equipment-only funding is a good option for farmers like this. Many other grants cant be used on equipment even though that’s a cost that holds many producers back. We’ve worked hard to diversify our market and the crops we sell but we still feel the depression in corn and soy. Weve heard people say domestic suppliers need to grow less corn and soy because of imports. That seems backwards. We can trace any product back to the field it came from and we need to make sure that’s the case for any product – foreign or domestic should be held to the same standards.

    Kim: Look forward to hearing more about USDA grant program and your implementation. Customer base – have you noticed changes in outlets for products and aspect on demand side?

    Luke: Diverse customer based. Sell anything from pound of flour to tracker trailer load. Been sheltered some from volatility. Some of larger feed customers saying can get feed cheaper and they don’t know where it’s coming from. Dairy industry has been tough and they are looking to share every penny they can.

    Only way see prices return is to reduce production, supply/demand, and only thing people could do was lower supply.

    Nate: In thinking about level playing field, an alternative would be to making sure imports are legitimate.

    Luke: Correct.

    Joseph Kibiwott – Organic Processor (General)

    Certified organic enterprise. We process and market US grown specialty grains. Markets include domestic food distributors, food manufacturers, and some over seems. Timeless Seeds supports residue testing to protect family farms and processors. My submission is bringing into focus our experience. The strong need is that is often caused is always born by farmer. Sometimes want to sell product to Europe and they have strict testing needs and when they test it and if out of spec, we can’t even market as organic here in US. Imports have access to US markets. Growers are doing their best. Need a level playing field.

    Nate Powell-Palm: When you were describing amount of testing other countries do on American products, if we increase testing, we are only playing catch up.

    Joseph: yes, increase number of tests that we can.

    Craig Schmitt – organic producer (CACS)

    Farmer in NE Montana, part of Montana producers co-op. Grow grain and building a seed cleaning facility to allow me to sell directly to consumers. I did apply for the organic grant and it’s been a huge help to get going – doing cleaning for other farmers in MT as well. It’s a long drive to deliver grains sometimes up to $2 a bushel. Excited to see USDA helping with that and hopes the program will continue. Another issue is market stability: organic consumers and farmers want a stable market. The price getting out of hand because of imports is a problem. Fortunately I have multi-year contracts for wheat but a lot of farmers do not have that.

    Nate Powell-Palm: $2/bushel — that’s a lot of money! How are we moving this grain less so we retain some of that value.

    Craig: I have a cleaner purchased, scales, and there’s a lot of people in area so they can increase prices.

    Amy: Talk about process went through to insure putting in vertical integration and market at teh end of the chain.

    Craig: Have contracts with mills directly and one particular customer – have market already and feeding it by supporting it.

    Kim Dykman – Agrisecure, organic consultant for farmers (CACS)

    Western Nebraska – work with 20+/- growers with digital certification support. Concerned with fraud at the import levels. While the new SOE rule was needed, it does not go far enough to address the “organic” imports that are threatening our markets. How do we know when a country is exporting it is actually supportable? It should be imperative that every imported crop be tested, and not just 5% of the certifier customers that are now. They are addressing fraud at the local level, but every import that comes in should be testing. In keeping with the new SOE, how do we ensure that bills of lading are accurate? How can we verify them to ensure that there are no duplicate sales?

    The A23 program at NRCS, I’m hearing from my growers that while in spirit it was great, local offices are not well informed, deadlines are missed, and they cannot get the information that they need. We need to get more organic acres going in the pipeline.

    Amy: Can you talk about retention of acres with the producers that you are working with? Are they looking to grow, decertify acres?

    Kim: I think they would grow. Several have added fields, but I’ve also lost three farms that decertified. Two were in Kansas and had a hard time getting their crops sold due to trucking prices. And then I lost a guy with organic cattle. He was frustrated. He lost processing. He is in Nebraska. Couldn’t find a way to truck them to where they needed to go so that it made sense economically.

    Maria Gerling – general public (CACS)

    Consumer of organic food. Should be able to expect soil organic food is grown has been free of synthetic chemicals for at least 2 years. Expect the use of compost and cover crops, recycling of organic waste, the use of non-toxic control that will not harm environment or human health. The use of nonsynthetic fertilizers, pesticides, etc. There are 7 universal point consumers should demand of organic food: it is organic, free of synthetics, food is hormone free, the food had not been radiated, not been genetically altered, food that is organic ingredients, the backing of organic certifiers. Without this the consumer will be ripped off. As an example I have an apple on my table that is a mummy after 4 months. Consumers often don’t have any information about sourcing.

    Brian: Gave some clear points we can use b/c we have been talking about how to promote organic to the consumer.

    Nate Powell-Palm: Top 2 takeaways consumer should expect from organic?

    Maria: Labels – true labels.

    Dave Chapman – Long Wind Farm, Real Organic Project, Organic Farmers Association, Vermont Organic Farmers (CS)

    Hello everybody. I’m Dave Chapman, co-director of the Real Organic Project. I’m a member of the Organic Farmers Association, and I’m also a farmer who runs Longwind Farm in Vermont.

    I want to talk about something I think we can all agree on, which is rare for me. I’ve seen something very disturbing in the last few years. I’ve seen a lot of small farms leaving organic certification. I’m sure we’re all aware of this, but just in the last year for the real organic project, we have lost a hundred farms that we certified. That’s close to 10% of the farms that we certify as real organic, and they left the NOP program. They’re small farms, not midscale or large farms. I’ve been trying to think about what we can do, because I think everybody in the NOP loses by this. I think Grimway and Driscols lose. I think everyone loses when small farms leave. More and more we are seeing organic become large scale industrial farming labels, which none of us wants.

    And I’ve really been struck by in Denmark, where certification is absolutely free. It’s all paid for by the government, and I actually think that that would be a huge step forward for the national organic program. We could easily double the number of certified organic farms in a year if all certification was paid for. But at the very least, we could try to get at least the certification entirely paid for in smaller farms, maybe less than $500,000 gross sales. And it would make a big difference. The small farms often don’t see an economic benefit for getting certified. When we began certification, what we saw was people did it because they believed in a movement. Now, it’s become a little bit more of a business proposition.

    Farms are always struggling, so if we took away the economic pain of getting certified, there’s still a lot of paperwork and whatnot that people have to do. But I think it could be pretty important. Right now, you know, farms can get about 50% of their fee paid for a small farm up to $750. Through the FSA they have to wait half a year to get the money, make a big difference if it was just covered by the government.

    And finally, I just wanted to say that real organic urges the NOSB to not permit the recycling of so-called biodegradable plastic in compost. I know you’re working on that. Thank you.

    Alison: On the cost-share program, I agree with you that funding that would go a bit further to cover producer’s costs would go a long way. That’s not within our power to make it happen, but it’s in our proposal on the transition initiative feedback. Do you have a sense of how many producers might stay in the program longer if the reimbursement numbers were greater?

    Dave: I wish I had some numbers, but I don’t. Maybe Jenny Tucker does, but I doubt it. I hear from a lot of farms that it’s just too expensive. They’re not saying that they can’t do the paperwork; it’s that they cannot come up with the money.

    Alison: The numbers are hard to come by, so anyone who is even anecdotally able to help us with them, it would be appreciated.

    Nate Powell-Palm: Appreciate ROP’s focus on consolidation and equal playing field. Do you think $750 is the difference in staying in business and not? When I think about cost-share and if it’s enough, it’s such a tiny amount of money we’re talking about peanuts. I love idea of fed govt paying for cert costs. But how do we get small producers a slice of the pie. How do we dream bigger?

    Dave: I agree with you, Nate. For my farm, $750, I would notice it, but for a small farm, they do notice it. Those 100 farms that we lost didn’t go bankrupt. These are farms that are still farming the same way and they just chose not to be organic. I do think that $750 can make a difference for a lot of small farms, but I do agree that we need to think bigger. It drives me crazy that we are putting millions of dollars into transition. We need to create the economic reality with big farms and small farms can stay in business. Part of that is banning those fraudulent imports. It used to be that a small organic dairy farm could make a good living, but now they’re going out of business.

    Amy: Conversation you and Nate had answered some of questions. Want to dive down deeper into folks who aren’t certifying. Are there other barriers noticing with this group of 100 you just mentioned?

    Dave: We certify all kinds of farms, but probably heavier on produce farms. For the grain farmers, it’s just that the market is so depressed. I don’t think it’s because sales are down, but that competition that might not be legitimately organic is up. We have a lot of domestic fraud coming in. I think that SOE will stop that; I hope. If we would stop that, I think that automatically farmers would see prices going up. When we short circuit that system, it falls apart. When we have federal protections in the marketplace, all boats will rise that are truly organic.

    Amy: Crop insurance document we’re discussing. Any comments you’d like to bring forth on crop insurance?

    Dave: Us produce growers in VT didn’t know that there was such as a thing as crop insurance. I don’t think it applies to us. It really punishes organic grain farmers. Anything that you can do to guide that ship would be greatly appreciated. I’m not aware of vegetable farmers using crop insurance, so I need to be educated.

    Jerry: I took my hand down because I was going to ask Dave to talk about competing labels on a single clam shell. The building of a common language around this discussion is so important, and it’s happening before my eyes, and I appreciate it.

    Dave: I’m not opposed to a lot of logos on one label. It’s a reflection that everyone’s needs aren’t being met. In almost every country, there are add-on labels. I think we have a lot of common language. I just heard Paul Holmbeck speak. He’s an American who was head of organic in Denmark for 20 years. It was inspirational about all of the ways that they are supporting organic growers through growth in the marketplace, through technological support. I think we could learn a lot from them.

    Doug Currier – The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) (CS, MS)

    I’m presenting comments today on behalf of the Organic Materials Review Institute. OMRI’s mission is to support the growth and trust of the global organic community through expert, independent, and transplant verification of input materials, and through education and technical assistance. Our comments are intended to provide technical data and other information about materials to support the NOSB’s work. Our organization is accredited through the USDA’s quality assessment division. I’m presenting comments today on inert ingredients, compost, and proposed technical report template revisions.

    So first, inert ingredients. We continue to maintain that an updated system used for the review and approval of inert ingredients should ensure that any inner ingredient approved for use in USDA organic production meets all the evaluation criteria, and this updated system must also not overwhelm the NOSB to the point where your mandate cannot be fulfilled. We do not support individual listings of inert ingredients on the National List since that would most likely mean that that second item, one that we review as a requirement and a new updated system, cannot be met. We maintain that the assessment of many of the off evaluation criteria can be fulfilled by considering EPA documentation used during their past reassessment work and documentation from subsequent rule making efforts. Consideration of remaining criteria evaluation and how to present the outcomes of these evaluations be at a national list or otherwise are areas that we encourage the materials subcommittee to seek advice from experts at their committee meetings. We encourage continued attention and focus on the issue. The finish line is in sight.

    Compost. I’m looking forward to exploring the questions and issues the subcommittee has raised on compost at the meeting next week in person. There’s 1 point, though, I wanted to highlight now that it’s just involving contamination removal prior to composting. We require composters that we work with that use raw material or the feed stocks that are at high risk for contamination have a foreign materials removal method in place. So, high risk feed stocks right now include green waste that are municipally collected like leaves, lawn clippings and food waste.

    And lastly, TR templates. As you’ve seen from our written comments, we’re not in favor of amending the TR templates in a way that officially expands the scope to include focus on the use of excluded methods and the manufacture of materials under petition. Our position is not only coming from an organization that currently writes these reports but takes into consideration future organizations that might have to do that work. I’ve often heard over the years this question, yes, we can ask for some of the documentation or information, but what are we going to do with the information we get back?

    Addition to the logistical challenges outlined in our comments, knowing what to do with the information that is received is a major concern for us given the history of criteria when it comes to applying the definition of excluded methods and there are subsequent prohibition and input.

    Amy: Question regarding compost – comprehensive work agenda item that we’re working on. From your opinion, should we look to increase the scope further and review of inoculants used for compost to add further guiderails or framework. They are leading to modified practices, such as need to turn the piles.

    Doug: I think that’s tougher under our current system. We are looking at anything that is added to a compost pile, which includes inoculants. My experience is that we have that covered.

    Amy: With those inoculants, I know that OMRI has approved some for compost use, is there a risk there for excluded methods? Should we unpack that more?

    Doug: Not sure about that, but we do ask about excluded methods to manufacture the input products that are applying for review. Gets back to have info, then what doing to do with it. Have decision trees in our manual and additional collections and working through those trees to determine compliance.

    Franklin: If I heard correctly, you said that OMRI is not in favor of beefing up the TR templates when it comes to excluded methods; can you explain that more?

    Doug: Practically. Getting information that we would need. We are talking about brand name products instead of large classes of materials. The proprietary manner makes it hard to get at things. There are the decision trees that I mentioned that address how excluded methods apply. There are challenges here.

    Brian: On the issue of inerts, sounds like on of your arguments against listing individually it will overwhelm work NOSB will do. But it seems like our initial look – maybe 150 or so materials in use. And those can be grouped – some of them. Not excited about having more sunset reviews, but if its spread over 5 year period it does not seem unmanageable to me.

    Doug: I think your perspective is important – it would seem it could lead to an unmanageable system and could overwhelm board, but if board is thinking differently then that is great to hear. I take your point about spreading things out.

    Alison: Wanted to loop back to the TR template. Puzzled over why the excluded methods questions seem to be different to you from other materials. You mentioned that a lot of the materials are proprietary, but you’d be preparing TRs for generic materials. Could you unpack that more?

    Doug: Depending on how template is revised, we need to figure out how products are made at anytime ever. It’s expanding the scope needing to think about individual products. I think the vitamin CR in particular. The task of figuring out how things are made seems unreasonable and unsustainable to go out and find that info. It works to some level like vitamins and some microbial products perhaps, but beyond that it gets really challenging.

    Alison: I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around this. I really rely heavily on the process sections of the TR. Sometimes there are gaps in the TR. Is it that you sort of have to unknow things that you know through OMRI’s certification of individual materials, or is it that we ran up against a proprietary roadblock?

    Doug: I think the main concern confidence that we are asking questions as presented. We are wary of the scope.

    Mindee: Thank you, especially with help with TRs templates. Amy’s question on inoculants: if there was an excluded methods in an inoculant question you would ask more questions.

    Doug: That is right. Asking the question and getting that answer is something that we do for all of the products that we are reviewing. Depending on what they come back with, we take it through our decision tree.

    Mindee: I just wanted to appreciate the difficulty of the chicken and egg and asking more questions and note that is what we are up against now.

    Wood: The effort to understand more complexity related to specific products – in one example, we talk all the time about the role of mining in capturing materials used in organic. I never feel comfortable with level of review related to mining impacts. It’s still a question we ask and want to understand more fully what’s going on. We constantly acknowledge mining impacts and keep products on NL because of essentiality. As we think more deeply about useful TRs, does this resonate with you?

    Doug: It does. Transparency is critical to the work that we do. This idea of not asking the question for fear of not knowing what to do with the information that we get back may not be valid in the long run. One thing that we haven’t talked about yet is the gray area in regards to inputs and how excluded methods applies to them, and that’s another thing about diving into this. It’s going to be hard to get the information, and what do you do with the gray area around inputs? On the one hand, I understand the need to ask the question and get at it that way, it’s just this preparation on what to do when you get the answers.

    Wood: I feel that’s why we have to ask those questions. We do not have nearly enough information on mining of materials.

    Franklin: Looking at it from a consumers point of view, to think someone is refraining from asking questions b/c they wouldn’t know what to do with the answers, that doesn’t feel good. That doesn’t feel good as a reason for not asking the questions. From consumer perspective, doesn’t feel like a great reason not to ask the question.

    Kyla: Change is hard. If this happens, it will take some getting used to, and that’s okay. For better or worse, you guys did a bang up job on these last round of TRs, but we got a lot of useful information. I do not think we necessarily have all of the answers on what we are going to do with that, and I think that’s okay. Excluded Methods verification is applied to NL materials all of the time, correct?

    Doug: Yes, absolutely.

    Kyla: Maybe we need to talk more about the gray area. Also, maybe more clarity around fermentation. Is that where some of the gray areas lie?

    Doug: what we found with inducement of genesis tR is that the excluded methods definition is written with plant breeding in mind. I think microorganisms are definitely high risk. Perhaps beefing up understanding of those methods could help by way of excluded methods definition.

    Randy Mitchell – Perdue Foods LLC (LS)

    VP of Nutrition of Perdue Foods. 30 years poultry nutritionist. To date no alternative to synthetic methionine. Need to keep available. See slides.

    Nate Powell-Palm: Talking about animal welfare, and the effect of over feeding protein. Could you speak to impact on birds that high ammonia levels have?

    Randy: In worse cases, blindness, respiratory problems. Higher protein is more than just ammonia, when allowing nitrogen to feed lower intestines, the pathogenic bacteria blooms and causes all kinds of problems.

    Nate Lewis: Any potentials for abuse with use of methionine – overfeeding for economic gain?

    Randy: After meet requirements, overfeeding will hurt productivity. Feed too much of it and it will cause birds to back off feed.

    Brian: Any slaughter byproducts that can supply methionine?

    Randy: Yes – feather meal would contain high amount of cystine. That would be outside purview of what standards allow.

    Brian: Any mammal byproducts?

    Randy: Yes, animal proteins variable, depending on what constituents would make that up. Could add some methionine to that.

    Kim: Question around animal welfare. Curious if the current options on the diet restrictions pose any kind of animal welfare concern?

    Randy: Yes, I do. Occurs occasionally when we see poorly processed soybean meal. When meal is not processed correctly (over or under) the cystine is not available to the animal and you cant add enough to keep problems from occurring. Especially bad when it gets warm because that causes poor absorption of amino acids. In an organic diet there is nothing you can do for that chicken there.

    It’s not every flock. It’s especially bad when it gets warm because during heat stress, you’ll also have poor absorption of amino acids. It’s almost like a tipping point. I can tell you as someone who is responsible for organic welfare, there is nothing you can do for that animals, and it’s a terrible feeling knowing that you have no other options on what to do.

    Adele Durfey – Clear Frontier Ag Management (CACS)

    We have a large number of partner-growers mostly in Midwest. Increase testing requirements for imported grains. Want to increase stringency. Spent a lot of time working internationally specifically in Ukraine and consulting countries in Eastern block. In Ukraine much of the corn and soy was GMO despite being sold as non-GMO. There was bribing and cheating of tests. Nothing much has changed. Even USDA has come out with a report saying 60-65% of soy in Ukraine is GMO. It’s too easy for a non-GMO country ton produce that much GMO product you can easily see the problem. There are no serious detractors from cheating. We need to increase required testing. Once it hits US we do our own testing – both volume we are testing but the breadth of contaminants tested as well. We have a lot of producers taking soy out of organic and back to conventional because of the problems.

    Wood: The value of that practical experience on the ground is really useful. Thank you for calling in.

    Amy: You mentioned that you were part of a farming operation in the Ukraine. From a profit and loss standpoint, how did that compare to US production?

    Adele: A bit lower. Direct inputs, such as seed – poor country. The biggest piece was the labor. You might pay someone max $5,000 a year to work on the farm there, but you cannot do that here in the US. I think it’s difficult to compare and say that it is fair to get products from abroad with the uncertainty of the integrity of the product.

    Amy: From an agronomic standpoint in the Ukraine, what was the disease and insect pressure compared to the Midwest?

    Adele: In a large portion of western Ukraine, there was a lot of weed and insect pressure. We had a lot more rain. We would be able to grow a lot of crops, but the pressure that you would incur was quite great. We would have several different sprayings of pesticides and herbicides. That is quite common. Right up until 10 days before you take the crops off. People are trying to hit yields there. They aren’t growing for an organic market, because there isn’t one in Ukraine.

    Nate Powell-Palm: Can you tell us more about S2G strategy is for deploying capitol for organic farmers?

    Adele: WE don’t actually deploy capital for them. We are a portfolio company and think there are other avenues they pursue. I can’t really speak to that.

    BJ McNeil – organic producer CACS

    Organic grain farmer in central South Dakota. Want to talk about roll out of NRCS practice standard 823. The other thing is the flooding commodity market of imported grain. Also antiquated rules related to micronutrients in organic. Want to focus on importing of grain and how its affecting producers and the industry. We have 25% of our corn in the bin that can’t get a bid for. Plenty being imported. The second thing, soybeans in bin. Can sale but below cost of production. Also have sunflowers in the bin from 2022 that haven’t been able to move. Importation of grain, drastically affected our operation. We’ve had to move some acres back to conventional b/c the price being offered doesn’t cover cost of production. Other thing getting overlooked is the squeeze of smaller feed mills. Larger corporations controlling imports, setting price on imports, then going to smaller mills and dictating price.

    Nate: Could you speak more about pressure on small infrastructure.

    BJ: do know of smaller feed mill bought out by larger group because feed mill could no longer compete with imports others using. couldn’t deal with local producers any more, didn’t like the way he was looking in community. He is getting brunt of it and he has to compete. Just wanted out of it and tired of the stress.

    Nate Lewis: antiquated restrictions?

    BJ: trying to use less manure. Can use micronutrients and micro doses.

    Alison: About 25% cost reduction – can you speak to main cost differences?

    BJ: Cost saving in conventional is labor. Manure for us is expensive. Have to bring nutrients from far away. We took out some poor acres that were tough to manage.

    Amy: crop insurance reforms – at least follow back and close loop with you. Good to try to make positive change.

    BJ: Thank you.

    Annette Cook – Simmons Grain Co. (CACS)

    Secretary in Ohio. 100% organic soy processor. If the NOP does not act the seal is in danger. We need better oversight on foreign imports. Implement pesticide testing and full panel solvent testing. The NOP 2611 and 2613 – need to be improved. Refined products cannot be treated the same as a raw commodity. Need to look at producer groups – they were good in a young market but now the market has matured past this point. Grower groups are absurd and allow fraud. Large domestic entities use these to blend conventional product and accelerate land transition. We need to remove the model. SOE requires all steps to be certified but grower groups are still allowing multiple producers under one certificate –large loophole. Equivalency to product oforiginn only. Mass balance needs to be done immediately. We cant promise transitioning farmers there is a market when they finish. US cant continue to be a dumping ground for fraudulent product.

    Kim: Been a great opportunity to hear from crush plants. Do you ahve any data about amount of imports coming in from grower groups.

    Annette: I do not, but I believe that speakers coming up with have more information surrounding that.

    Erin Silva – UW Madison HS (celery powder)

    Professor of U Wisconsin, Madison. I have been working with industry partners on issues related to organic curing materials for past 8 years. We are looking at feasibility of transitioning from conventional curing powders to organic curing powders. The research conducted by UW Madison and U Florida has demonstrated that organic celery and Swiss chard can be produced with higher rates of nitrogen. This is also the case in the production of conventional curing powders. These higher rates can be managed through cover cropping and other responsible ways of nitrogen application to minimize negative environmental consequences. More information is needed to identify the best management practices. Depending on soil type, crop rotation, and specific environments. Research in two major production regions has generated data for the appropriate level of nitrogen fertilizer needed in those environments, but we still need to collect more data across working farms to validate those results.

    While organic sources of curing powder is now available through Diana Food, there remains concerns regarding the reliability of these resources over time. These concerns include the availability and consistency of supply as well as understanding the season to season variability between sources for which again we need further research.

    Our current research has also investigated the impact of organic curing powders on processed organic meat quality and food safety. This work conducted at University Wisconsin Madison has demonstrated that organic sources of curing powers produce equivalent food safety and quality parameters as compared to conventional sources.

    More work is needed in partnership with industry to optimize these formulas. To account for these novel organic curing powder sources, including Swiss chard. To further scale up supply, more research is needed to understand how to optimize the fermentation of organic juices used to produce the nitrite that is actually using curing powders. New technologies are being explored to produce high quality consistent products that is required by industry using these organically allowed practices. In addition to this organic fermentation research, scaling up supply also requires a continued assessment of advertising and handler logistics to ensure consistent quality.

    So, in summary, we’re not ready to move on to a completely organic supply chain at this point.

    Alison: It sounds like we are potentially on track to be there in five years at the next sunset, but not there yet?

    Erin: Correct.

    Nate Powell Palm: What a rockstar you are for getting this done in the airport. If you were to pinpoint the challenges that you have observed in your research, are they more agronomic or more post-harvest handling to make this a reality in 5 years?

    Erin: I think from research we’ve done, Swiss chard can actually be used to mitigate env consequences but issues of stability so more research needs to be done re: stability of nitrates. Need to invest in post-harvest side of things.

    Wood: You kept mentioning the need for more research. Are there enough researchers working on this that there are enough sources of good data? I’m trying to figure out the efficacy of the research priorities and whether or not there are enough people involved in this work. We need researchers. Can you talk at all about that?

    Erin: Initially investment was a 2 mill grant, and I’m flying back from PD meeting. Project team is very interested in going back to funding source. Refining research over time. Where are bottlenecks and bring on more expertise.

    Duane Myer – Farmer producer (CACS; CS)

    Producer – father son operation, small to midsized. Corn, beans, oats, hog confinements that we use manure from for N needs. Capitalism you have to compete – from the imports coming in we have been struggling due to pricing. The testing needs to be done. We are tested on every load. We are held to a higher standard. Some of the stuff coming in is held to no standard. Take of the fraud at import levels to make level playing field. Micronutrients are a big deal for our operation too, because we have to prove we are deficient in every category. I don’t mind competing I just want a level place.

    Amy: Just going to say thanks for commenting.

    JACOB GOLBITZ – Agromeris (General)

    Director of Agromeris. Focus on organic and specialized grain. For last several years, worked with stakeholders to investigate grains. Most recently been looking at organic soybean imports from Africa – then consolidated into producer groups. According to language in SOE, small overseas markets to source products. Not limited to products not produced in US – dramatic increase in imports threatening domestic production. While facets of SOE rule will increase visibility of organic, the issue of how 3rd party certify thousands of small holders, not addressed by SOE rule.

    Kim: Do you have any data around grower groups that supply imports to the US?

    Jacob: Numbers that would support percentage – numbers – we imported over 526,000 MT of soybeans in 2023. Of that amount, about 291,000 came from Africa. How much came from producer groups, I do not know.

    Amy: Question on your comments submitted – what types of ag data would you like to see in order for us to provide more black and white information to solve fraud?

    Jacob: Acreage data.

    Amy: We need transparency with acres internationally.

    Jacob: If we had acreage, we could figure everything else out.

    Amy: In the US, a lot of people talk about robust rotations. When you were looking at the data nationally, are you seeing that crop rotations are in the mix, or are you seeing constant soybean rotation?

    Jacob: Better acreage data would answer that question. Have seen wild swings in acreage. There’s a lot of turmoil and strife in some of these areas.

    Pete Kapustka – Organic Producer (CS)

    59-year-old 5th year organic farmer. Operates in MN and WI. Live in Iowa. Grew up on family farm. Degree in ag business. Took over family farm. In 1992, spent next 20 years working with conventional farming companies. Some large, some small. In 2020, at age 56, I decided to pursue organic farming operation against advice of many. Continue to push the pencil. Telling you all this so you understand how I see current organic. USDA must sample each and every load of organic grain that enters the US market. Consumer will realize that fraud. Brand and industry destruction is likely outcome. Think of Planet Fitness and others. By taking a strong and proactive position. How can you explain to a consumer why contamination occurred and how could be prevented. 1 in 20 load could be tested it’s established fact that a minimum of 5% … access to domestic markets is a privilege not a right.

    Audre Kapacinskas – S2G Ventures HS; General

    Principle at S2G, investment firm. Commitment to creating long term outcomes. As part of mission we are dedicated to empowering farmers, including organic. We want to provide necessary resources for organic to flourish by providing capitol. American farmers are innovative especially as it relates to soil health and environmental sustainability. Recent years have brought challenges to American farmers to supply chain disruptions and economic issues. We want organic farmers to have a reliable marketplace. Transparent testing practices benefit consumers. Work to prevent import fraud, figure out how crop insurance can better benefit American farmers, etc.

    Nate Powell Palm: Appreciate that you brought up the consumer in this discussion. I would say that when you hear most podcasts about what is organic, the lay person might say that they don’t know because they don’t test. Would you agree with that?

    Audre: I would.

    Jerry: Did you give any hint as to how you currently, today, would look at partnering with an organic grain farmer?

    Audre: There’s a variety of ways. We have invested in a number of operations and in technology that work closely with growers and entrepreneurs that come from producer backgrounds. Also, programs that provide financing that could potentially offer a more resilient path forward.

    Jerry: Have you been listening for the past hour? (Yes.) Listening to the requests and demands for an even playing field, which I agree with entirely and do not think there is one. As an investor, does that tank how you would look today at an organic grain producer?

    Audre: not necessarily. It influences the market conditions that we assess. Naturally influences prices. I think inherently we are believers in this framework even if prices are somewhat depressed. We believe framework is necessary and robust set of choices for consumers. Does it influence us? Yes, but we think inherently there is value in this framework and in American production.

    Kate Newkirk – International Organic Inspectors Association (CACS)

    IOIA accredited inspector. Masters in Agronomy from VA Tech. Soil scientist and inspector.

    IOIA finds the instruction documents 2610 and 2611 inadequate to meet the testing requirements of 405… These are only specific to periodic pesticide screening, but do not meet the testing. IOIA believe that sampling and testing are risk specific. Because they are so widely varied and risk dependent, IOIA suggests that scope specific best practices are developed by certifiers in cooperation with the NOP.

    Training is need for inspectors and certifiers, and should be conducted in conjunction with the laboratories that are being used. Further training is needed regarding custody requirements, sampling methodology, and in many other areas.

    This will go a long way in supporting consumer confidence and in deterring fraud.

    Sampling requires additional time, effort, and expertise by inspectors, and they should be compensated appropriately.

    Nate Powell-Palm: Waited 2 days to hear inspectors are on board and we can do this.

    Kenn Jenkins – Organic Crop Advisor/Farmer, Peak Ag Solutions (CACS; CS; HS)

    Certified crop advisor. Focused on traceability. 10 states. Residue testing of every load. Losing farmers b/c US grower feels being hired to higher standard. We can supply more. Our farms can trace back to the seed. We battle debt, weeds, yet imports are accepted without the same scrutiny. Major red flags that USDA should be focusing on enforcement. Why would USDA not automatically investigate. There was a belief USDA would protect the label. Consumer surveys show trust is declining from previous survey. Test all grains at the ports. We don’t mind competing. Everybody in fraudulent supply chain is profiting.

    Skip Hulett – Organic Produce Association

    As tech advances continue the 3-year transition period isn’t needed, and we think they should be able to test out of the transition requirement. With approved soil testing or alternative if an alternative to soil is used. No substances not allowed by the NOP can be tested for. We have a proposal that outlines this shift for the NOP, which outlines how to break down all barriers to organic transition and production. With allows us to address the growing demand for organic.

    Anne Ross – The Cornucopia Institute (General)

    [Please see Cornucopia’s Organic Investigator’s full comment online.]

    Nate Powell Palm: Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate the tone and tenor that Cornucopia has taken with this topic.

    Jaydee Hanson – Center for Food Safety (LS; MS; PDS)

    This is Jaydee Hanson. I’m the policy director at the Center for Food Safety.

    I want to urge you to begin doing some real work on plastics. The FDA this week finally responded to our petition to get PFAS out of polyethylene used for food. And, you know, since 2016, the Center for Food Safety has been asking the NOSB to exclude the phenyl compounds, orthophalates, and PFAS compounds from food and food contact substances. It is really past time to act on this. You know, I do understand that generally organic hasn’t paid attention to plastic wraps, but we’re having a huge problem with all of these chemicals. In that list of bisphenols, PFAS, and orthophalates have been found to be hormone disrupting chemicals. In our opinion, plastic should be banned by the NOP in many areas where they’re ubiquitous.

    I want to urge you to take very seriously these risks to human health and the environment. We are going to damage the organic label unless we take strong action. Talk to the organic growers in Maine who unknowingly put PFAS contaminated sludge on their fields from years ago.

    Organic farms should not be the next source of plastic pollution. That will shut down organic operations.

    Brian: Plastics have been weighing on my mind too. The question is would the plastics industry be able to produce that would be functional without PFAS, phalates, bisphenols, etc.

    Jaydee: Yes, there are exceptions for all these chemicals these are just the easiest.

    Brian: It wouldn’t be replacing one toxin with another?

    Jaydee: For the most part. Even plastic chemicals are coming through equipment to process cheese. One organic company has taken this seriously – Annie’s by General Mills.

    Brian: I hope organics can lead the way making plastics safer for everyone.

    Jaydee: We don’t want to have to do a legal petition with you like we are with the FDA!

    Jerry: FDA or EPA involvement – could you restate that?

    Jaydee: maybe a year or 2 years ago, petitioned the FDA to ban some kinds of PFAS in plastic contact substances – it’s illegal to have food additive that causes cancer. Just this week they said we’re going to go and address petition.

    Erin Levine – World Centric (CS)

    I’m with World Centric. We’re manufacturers of 3rd party certified compostable freeware, and my background is actually in commercial composting. In California, I used to sell compost that’s approved for organic use into the agricultural community, so this issue is very close to me personally.

    I want to express my support for, BPI’s proposed amendment to the definition of compost from plant and animal material to compost feed stocks. I think that permitting food contact products that are certified compostable, meaning ASTM standards, and that are verified by third-party certifiers like TV or CMA or BPI, they allow an opportunity for composters to receive more nitrogen sources, since that food wear acts as a vessel for food scraps and additional carbon sources from the products themselves. I recognize that currently all biopolymers are classified as synthetic. They break down into natural non synthetic elements through naturally occurring biological processes that leave no toxicity. All established under the ASTM standards D.6,400, D. 68, and D. 84. So, the resulting compost feeds off doesn’t contain anything synthetic, just natural non synthetic substances.

    If the concern is that anything added to the compost stock should be natural, to know that biopolomers do essentially, they break down into CO2 and water. And so, in communities that have really robust compost collection and processing, I have seen success with accepting certified compulsive packaging and an overall reduction in conventional plastics that truly act as a contaminant to compost. The food contact products that are non-reusable, non recyclable, and then are certified compostable, they need an appropriate outlet to aid in waste reduction and to contribute to the whole circular economy.

    I personally conducted a field test with the compostable field test program and that’s funded by the compost research and education foundation. The objective was to measure how certified compulsive products are breaking down in commercial facilities. So, and I’ll try to move this along, but the end result was that in a desirable time frame, we saw complete disintegration of all the compostable plastics, even the line paper and fiber products. The liner disintegrated 1st before the paper and the fiber did. So, that’s really been a hangout because especially with the lining piece because we’ve had communities that have had foodware and they want alternatives to conventional plastic, but don’t end compost or that sell their final product as approved or organic don’t allow these. It’s just impossible and people don’t want to revert back to conventional plastics. Thank you.

    Alison: Thanks for your comments. I’ve been trying to understand all of the pieces that are coming together on this compost issue and miners in particular my understanding was that at least still some, like compostable products have P in the liners. Can you speak to whether there’s a threshold or they’re not allowed at all under the guidelines that we’re considering.

    Erin: Yes, so if it’s certified through one of the 3rd parties I mentioned, they have to go through ASTM suite of testing, but then additionally to be 3rd party certified, they have to meet under a hundred parts per 1 million of intentionally added PFA. So it has to be under that 100 parts per 1 million, which would consider it not intentionally added. Usually if it reads over, that’s an indicator that it was in the processing on the manufacturing.

    Brian: Did you say a hundred parts per 1 million?

    Erin: 100 parts per 1 million of total fluorine is the test that they test for.

    Brian: PFAS standards are in parts per billion and parts per trillion. So maybe we’re talking 1,000 parts per 1 billion, right? Those numbers seem very high to me, and that’s one of the concerns that I have, whether a small percentage of these compostable materials may break down visually but may leave residues in the soil that we really don’t want to see there.

    Erin: I understand that, but no to meet the ASTM standard it has to fully biodegrade to make a full conversion in a 180 day timeframe. I know that’s a longer timeframe than possibly desired for some commercial compost facilities.

    Brian: I see that, and I guess it depends on how you evaluate that. I don’t know all of these different standards, but some of them just are talking about visual disintegration. So PFAS compounds are not going to be great in a compost pile. Those fluorine bonds, carbon bonds are very strong. So, they’re doing to be there. And I don’t even know about some of the other compounds, like the Bisphenols and phthalates and those things, but there are concerns that the plasticizers and some of the adamant type of chemicals that are used to producer plastics, even though that you know they may be 99% compostable and sort of benign components, that a small percentage may really present a problem over the long run. So that’s where I’m coming with this.

    Mindee: I thought you said that the polymers break down into non synthetic elements in composting and CO 2 h 2 0 and something else and I was wondering if you could link that data for us? If you have a study or some information on the specificity of that, if you could send that to Michelle.

    Erin: Sure. Yeah, that’s due to the full biodegradation testing and they do that in the lab that we’re required to monitor how the conversion which is CO 2 organic matter.

    Nate Powell Palm: Thanks for your comment today. Kind of a larger question on plastics in general. Could you tell me why we need to be putting this sort of material into our food system. Why can’t it go and biodegrade in a dump in a landfill? Still, it’s better than the traditional plastics, but why do we have to get it so close to what we’re going to be ingesting? Especially if there’s just a 1 part per trillion PFAS.

    Erin: Yeah, I mean, that’s a really valid question. I think 1st that it comes in contact with food, it’s already approved by the FDA. I don’t think we should have all compostables like a sneaker or anything else related, only food contact material. That’s the 1st and foremost. And it does help with the overall global warming potential to reduce that because anything going to a landfill can then contribute to nothing. And also, what is happening in the Atlantic would just mummify and contribute to our continued landfill problem of excess waste. But in this way, if you produce a product that can go into and become a finished compost and go back into the soil, it can continue to be a part of the circular economy. It is designed to be that way because it’s derived from all plants.

    Nate Powell Palm: I totally appreciate that sentiment. It seems like when we said we weren’t going to have sewage sludge in organics, we sort of made a very similar decision that yes, it’s very circular to have human waste go back, but we said that that is an acute source of contamination not to argue with you. I appreciate your comments today.

    Albert Straus – Straus Family Creamery (LS)

    This burden includes adding paperwork and placing the responsibility on the farms to be part of the enforcement for certification.

    This situation will result in critical mass, losing organic farms and rural communities simultaneously because the certification will be too expensive and onerous.

    We need to be nurturing and educating the public about organic farming.

    We need to address fraud.

    I’m calling for a national standardized Organic System Plan and a national approved material list.

    John Brunquell – Egg innovations (LS)

    Leading producer of organic eggs. Need to keep organic seal as gold standard. There are too many certifications we have to put on egg cartons. Greenwashing. Egg innovations we use an identify-confirmed grain mill – try to purchase as much locally and then domestically – unfortunately some of our grain comes from overseas. We need a more robust grain market so that we can produce all the grain we need in the US. We need to increase testing of international grain. It’s unfathomable we can produce an organic soybean in Africana and ship it for cheaper than we can grow it in the US. We need to put more effort into educating organic consumers; growing organic movement supports every stakeholder.

    Kim: I appreciate your comments and lens and how look at this as end user. Do you feel like there is pressure the elevator or crusher to provide US products competitive to pricing structure to end user to get eggs to market in competitive fashions? Is there pressure from end user to bid on domestic products at same as imported?

    John: Yes – never had a retail customer demand domestic production. Organic soy meal is about $800/ton. System set up for them to prefer lowest cost. Huge advocates of explained domestic grain, but imports come in lower and that’s why stalled in capacity.

    Nate Powell-Palm: You have nothing to gain by domestic producers getting a better shake. How about the social contract in organic?

    John: Our perspective is I have no problem playing more for grain as long as its a level playing field across the US. Everyone in the supply chain has to make money and it has to get to consumer at an affordable price.

    Nate Powell-Palm: If we had a steady state of $8-9 for corn and $900 for soybean meal – farmers would be able to make money at those levels but could you?

    John: 2 years ago was paying 1500 for soybean meal and 14 for corn. We can make these numbers work, eventually we pass through to the consumer. Dozen eggs 4-6 dollars. Consumers want consistency and reliability.

    Amy: Quality of the products coming in – is it of equal quality to that coming form the US?

    John: Highly variable. Generally not. We own elevator so we blend domestic into import. It’s not exclusivity one or the other.

    Matthew Fitzgerald – Matthew Fitzgerald organics (CACS)

    Here to comment on the residue testing of imported grains. 24 year old organic farm. Today 2500 organic corn soybeans peas. On farm yields 58/acre soybeans. We consider ourselves to be highly skilled. Take pride in what we do. Support organic industry. Urge board to consider additional regulations and practices for testing imported grain.