Organic News: June 2018
Table of Contents
- Spring National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting held in Tuscon, AZ
- WSDA "Certified Organic" Signs Available to Promote Sales
- USDA Proposes Changes to the National List for Organic Livestock and Handling
- USDA Seeks Public Comments on Proposed Rule for National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard
- Cover Crops and Soil Health
- Steps to Reduce Pesticide Drift
- Soil Health and Organic Farming Webinar Series
Spring National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting held in Tuscon, AZ
The NOSB held its spring public meeting in Tucson, Arizona from April 25 to 27. Undersecretary of USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach spoke to the importance of protecting organic integrity, a theme that played a prominent role throughout the meeting. Acting Associate Deputy Administrator Jenny Tucker offered updates on NOP's enforcement activities and partnerships with other federal agencies to strengthen organic integrity. Jenny's presentation can be found on the National Organic Program's website.
Other key topics included:
- Import oversight and addressing challenges and opportunities in strengthening oversight of the organic supply chain.
- A proposal to Remove the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems to Organic Production passed and the NOP will need to provide detailed guidance when it moves forward with the proposal.
- A proposal drafted by the Organic Program's Scott Rice on Inspector Qualifications and Training passed and directs NOP to move forward in establishing minimum qualifications for inspectors.
- Polyoxin D Zinc Salt was one of several materials considered for addition to the National List. Public commenters and Board members cited it as an effective tool to battle fungal diseases such as mummy berry and powdery mildew. The Board supported its addition and passed the proposal. (Please note that any material recommended by the NOSB for addition to or removal from the National List must complete rulemaking before being allowed or prohibited for use.)
- As part of a Sunset 2020 Materials review, the Board heard initial public input on 40 materials which will be considered for continued inclusion or removal from the National List this fall.
- Finally, two new NOSB members were announced at the meeting: Eric Schwartz from United Vegetable Growers Cooperative, and Dr. James Greenwood, an avocado grower and contributor to UCLA's Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, and the Center for Public Health.
Organic Trade Association's Spring 2018 NOSB Report
Organic Material Review Institute's NOSB Materials Report: Spring 2018
WSDA "Certified Organic" Signs Available to Promote Sales
Are you direct marketing your certified organic products? How about a sturdy and stylish WSDA certified organic sign for your market or farm stand? To get your free sign, send us an email. Be sure include your certification number in the subject line.
Organic & Ag Policy
USDA Proposes Changes to the National List for Organic Livestock and Handling
In April, USDA published a proposed rule to implement recommendations the National Organic Standards Board passed at its fall 2017 meeting. The proposed rule would make two changes to the National List:
- Allow elemental sulfur in organic livestock production for use as a topical pesticide treatment to repel mites, fleas and ticks from livestock and their living spaces.
- Reclassify potassium acid tartrate from a nonagricultural substance to an agricultural substance. Potassium acid tartrate is currently listed as a nonorganic ingredient allowed in organic products. Reclassifying potassium acid tartrate as an agricultural substance would require handlers to use the organic form when it is commercially available. If it is not commercially available, handlers would be allowed to use the nonorganic form.
You may submit comments before the 60-day public comment period closes on June 29, 2018.
USDA Seeks Public Comments on Proposed Rule for National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard
The USDA invites public comment on a proposed rule to establish the National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard mandated by Congress in 2016. The standard will provide a uniform way to offer meaningful disclosure for consumers who want more information about their food. It would require food companies to disclose information about food containing genetically modified ingredients on labelsâ€”either on the packaging or using or a digital link such as a QR code. The proposed rule is open for comment for 60 days, until July 3, 2018. Comments may be submitted online through the Federal eRulemaking portal.
On May 23, the USDA announced the availability of an informational webinar on the proposed rule. The webinar, which is available starting June 1st, will cover the background, provisions, and possible impacts of the proposed rule.
Resources for Organic Producers, Processors & Handlers
Cover Crops and Soil Health
Videos and PDFs of over 45 presentations at the 2017 National Conference on Cover Crops and Soil Health are now available online. The Indiana conference highlighted insights from some of the nation's most innovative producers, conservation leaders and scientists on using cover crops to improve soil health.
Soil Health and Organic Farming Webinar Series
Starting May 9, the Organic Farming Research Foundation and eOrganic began presenting 9 webinars over the next year that focus on building organic matter, weed management, conservation tillage, cover crops, plant breeding and variety selection, water management and quality, nutrient management, and more. These webinars are available online.
Cost share, Grants & Funding Opportunities
New Guides on Using Organic Cost-Share and Crop Insurance Programs
The Organic Farming Research Foundation has created two guides to help organic producers: "The Organic Certification Cost Share Program Guidebook" and "A Guide to the USDA Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)."
Upcoming Agricultural Webinars & Events
Vegetable Diseases and Pest Problems
Tuesday July 17th, 9am-12pm, Bremerton $25
Join WSU Extension Regional Small Farms Program and WSU Plant Diagnostician, Jenny Glass, for this informative class on vegetable disease and pests on your farm or garden. This class is for farmers, market gardeners, or anyone growing a garden. Register here.
Managing a Small Poultry Flock
Tuesday June 19th, 6-9pm, Sequim$25
WSU Extension Regional Small Farm Program presents information on choosing and caring for chickens in a small-scale operation, backyard or homestead environment. Speakers will be covering laying hens, not meat bird care. Register here.
Bridging the GAPs Produce Safety Workshop
June 20th, 1-4 pm, Apple Cart Fruit, Tonasket
This on-farm food safety "walk and talk" workshop specifically designed for small- and mid-size growers to learn about produce safety practices that are cost effective and scale appropriate. Attendees will learn to identify, respond, and reduce food safety risks that can occur at any scale of farming operation related to workers, animals, soil amendments, water, tools/equipment, and post-harvest handling and storage. Register here.
Using Facebook to Grow your Farm Business
June 21st, 10 am PDT, online
Learn how to set up and manage a Facebook page for your farm business. Presented by NCAT and University of Arkansas, this webinar includes content creation, customer engagement, advertising, and post scheduling. Additional videos and webinars may be found on the ATTRA website. Register here.