Organic News: December 2018

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Organic News: December 2018

Program Manager: Brenda Book
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Organic Inspection

Certification News

Certified Organic Site Transfers Made Easy

Are you planning to lease an existing organic site from another certified operation in 2019? Adding new acreage to an organic certificate requires a New Site Application and an inspection of the acreage. However, if the acreage is currently on another operation's certificate and there are no gaps in management, it is possible to list the crops and acreage on your certificate prior to inspection.

To take advantage of this simplified option, the operation adding the acreage must submit the following items within one month from the transfer date:

  1. WSDA Site Application
  2. Previous Land Use Declaration
  3. A copy of the previous site manager's organic certificate (with the site highlighted)
  4. A site map identifying field boundaries and borders

If all information is received within 30 days of the transfer and there are no breaks in oversight, the acreage previously certified and your planned crop(s) will be added to your certificate. An inspection will still be conducted within the same growing season, but the crop(s) can be distributed upon receipt of the updated certificate.

If the above information is submitted more than 30 days after the transfer of the sites, an inspection will be required prior to the acreage and crops being added to your certificate. Contact the WSDA Organic Program with questions about site transfers or adding new land to an organic or transitional certificate.

Additional Public Feedback Sought on NOSB Seed-Related Proposals

At the October 2018 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting, two seed-related proposals were discussed. The Board expressed interest in getting broader comment from more stakeholders, as the public comment period was abbreviated. The Board indicated that they will continue accepting public comments on these proposals via the Federal Register in the NOSB docket.

Strengthening the Organic Seed Guidance (Proposal) – This proposal recommends revisions to NOP Guidance 5029, which describes practices for certified operations to demonstrate their proactive efforts to procure organic seeds, annual seedlings, and planting stock. The NOSB is looking for ways to increase the adoption and use of organic seed and planting stock. At its October meeting, the Board voted to amend the USDA organic regulations to require operations demonstrate yearly improvement in sourcing of organic seed and planting stock. However, the Board is still considering recommendations to NOP to revise NOP Guidance 5029 on this topic.

Genetic Integrity of Seed Grown on Organic Land (Proposal) – The goal of this proposal is to establish a pilot project to measure GMO contamination in seed planted on organic farms, with the intent of providing farmers and the organic community more information about GMO contamination levels in the seed supply. The pilot project is limited to field corn seed at this time. The Board is particularly interested in hearing from growers of organic field corn to better understand the potential impact of this proposal.

Comments on both proposals are being accepted until January 2, 2019

New comments submitted during this period will be considered as the Board prepares updated proposals for the Spring 2019 meeting. There is no need to re-submit comments if you already did so in the initial comment period. Revised proposals will be brought forward to the Spring 2019 meeting for further discussion and a vote.

NOP Deputy Administrator Speaks on Maintaining Organic Integrity

Dr. Jennifer Tucker, Deputy Administrator for the National Organic Program, outlines NOP's current priorities on enforcement and organic integrity in an Organic Produce Network article.

Industry News

Final Farm Bill Includes Organic Research, Cost Share, and More

The House and Senate have worked out a final Farm Bill that provides for organic agriculture! Key organic components include:

  • An increase in funding for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program from $20 million per year currently up to $50 million per year by 2023.
  • An increase in overall funding for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program
  • Continued funding for Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative (EQIP OI) and Transitional Incentives Program (TIP)
  • Full funding for the Organic Data Initiative, USDA's organic data collection program that provides accurate market and production information for the organic industry.
  • Funding that supports Whole Farm Revenue Crop Insurance, with provisions for organic prices.

Read more at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's blog, or in the Organic Trade Association's recent press release.

Events and Resources

Guide to Organic Practices for Climate Mitigation, Adaptation, and Carbon Sequestration

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) released the eighth guidebook in their immensely popular Soil Health and Organic Farming Series. Organic Practices for Climate Mitigation, Adaptation, and Carbon Sequestration examines research related to the capacity of sustainable organic systems and practices to sequester soil carbon and minimize nitrous oxide and methane emissions. The guide includes practical advice for reducing an organic farm’s “carbon footprint” and adapting to climate disruptions already underway.

The entire Soil Health and Organic Farming series, is available to download for free.

Cascadia Grains Conference

January 18-19, 2019, Olympia

The 2019 Cascadia Grains Conference: The Terroir of Local Grain, includes a full day of hands-on classes, tastings, panels, discussions, networking and locally-sourced meals. You can register for Saturday's events and Friday field trips online.

Country Living Expo and Cattlemen's Winterschool

January 26, 2019, Stanwood

Attend a variety of classes on a multitude of topics, network with other small farmers, enjoy a prime rib lunch and visit with local agricultural businesses. More information and registration links can be found on the Country Living Expo webpage.

Organicology Conference

February 14-16, 2019, Portland, Oregon

The Organicology Conference offers a weekend of intensive training sessions, workshops, world class keynote speakers, amazing entertainment and networking. This conference for organic stakeholders, farmers, and everyone in between is created by Organically Grown Company, Oregon Tilth, the Sustainable Food Trade Association, and the Organic Seed Alliance. You can register online on the Organicology website.

Save the Date! NOSB Spring Meeting

April 24-26, 2019, Seattle

The National Organic Standards Board meets twice per year to discuss organic standards and substances allowed for organic production. Meeting materials will be posted on the Spring 2019 National Organic Standards Board Meeting website as they become available.