Organic News: August 2018
Fire Season Adds Risk for Organic Farms
With fire season comes risk to life, property, and livelihood. Our sincere hope is that you and your family remain safe during this season of increased fire risk. Unfortunately, fire not only threatens Washington farms, it may jeopardize the organic status of your crops. Chemical fire retardants, if dropped on an organic orchard or field, are considered an application of a prohibited material per USDA organic regulations. Producers that have been impacted are responsible for contacting WSDA Organic Program as soon as possible so that we can offer technical assistance. We will send an inspector out and assist in setting new borders for any sites that were only partially sprayed.
- Crops produced on the land cannot be represented as organic for 36 months after the application
- Adverse action would not be taken against a producer with crops in the fire retardant area, unless they failed to divert crops to the conventional market during the transition.
- WSDA Organic Program will proactively get news out to clients in the fire area, and potential fire areas, about the need to contact us if their land was impacted.
- Unannounced or surveillance inspections may take place to observe any concerns about land in potential fire zones after safety concerns are cleared and if staff is available.
NOP Releases Policy Memos for Organic Imports
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) has developed a Summary of Activities and Overview Action Plan that provides:
- A summary of significant recent actions NOP has taken to protect the integrity of organic imports.
- An overview of the plan of action to implement new practices that strengthen the National Organic Program's enforcement and oversight capabilities.
NOP also recently published a Joint Letter clarifying requirements for Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) licensees who import commodities that fumigated agricultural products may not be labeled or sold as organic in the United States.
For an overview of enforcement activities taken in January, February and March 2018, view the Second Quarter Compliance and Enforcement/Appeals Report for Fiscal Year 2018.
Additionally, at its upcoming Fall meeting, the National Organic Standards Board will be addressing the integrity and oversight of the organic supply chain, both domestically and abroad. See below for more details on this upcoming meeting.
NOSB Fall Meeting October 24-26, Saint Paul, MN
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will meet to discuss organic standards and substances allowed for organic production this October. More information is available on the Fall 2018 NOSB web page, where a draft agenda can be found. Meeting materials will be posted as they become available.
The NOP's target date to publish all meeting materials and a more detailed agenda is September 5.
One important detail to keep in mind: this is the second meeting addressing 2020 Sunset materials. The Board will be voting at this meeting to relist or remove these materials. If these materials are important to your organic operation, it is crucial the Board hear from you. WSDA will soon send an NOSB-specific notice with additional information on meeting topics and detailed information on how to comment.
Events and Resources
Tilth Alliance and Washington State University (WSU) present their 15th year of farms walks to provide on-location learning opportunities for growers. Upcoming events include:
Creative Farm Financing and Diversified Enterprises-Bilingual Farm Walk in English and Spanish
Monday, September 10; noon-4 p.m.
Mariposa Farm, Everson
Fall Cover Crops and the Value of On-Farm Education
Monday, September 24; noon-4 p.m.
Cloudview Farm, Ephrata
Recovering from a Loss & Building Up the "Community Good Will Credit Card"
Date TBA; noon-4 p.m.
Willowwood Farm of Ebey's Prairie, Coupeville
See their schedule for more details.
Digital Organic Recordkeeping Webinar
September 12, 12-1:30 PM PDT
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) will present a webinar on software strategies to help small to mid-sized organic growers keep records for organic certification. Read more and register here.
FSA Offers Tree Assistance Program for damaged trees, bushes and vines
The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) to provide financial assistance to eligible orchardists and nursery tree growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines lost by natural disasters. TAP may help with fireblight damage if the applicant meets all the requirements. Learn more about the Tree Assistance Program here.
Find your local service center here.