Highlights of the NOSB Meeting
St. Louis, MO - November 16 to 18, 2016
Compiled by Ed Maltby from reports by National Organic Coalition
and the Accredited Certifiers Association
The USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met for its Fall Meeting Nov 16 -18th, 2016 in St. Louis, MO. The Agenda was packed full with many presentations including the: NOP Update, National List Materials Update, National Organic Program Peer Review Report and NOP Response, and the State of Organic Seed Report. The above reports can be found on the NOSB Website page at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/nosb-fall-2016-meeting-st-louis-mo
Highlights of the NOP Update included:
The November NOSB Meeting was the last meeting for the following Board Members.
The following officers were elected for the 2017 Board:
Tom Chapman, Chair; Ashley Swaffar, Vice-Chair; Jesse Buie, Secretary.
Miles McEvoy, NOP Deputy Administrator, announced that the following new NOSB Members would begin work in January 2017:
Ivermectin (CAS # 70288-86-7) was removed from the National List as an emergency treatment so can no longer be used by organic livestock producers. Producers can still use Moxidectin and Fenbenzadole when synthetic parasiticides are the only answer to broad infestation. What is still lacking is a definition for a ‘livestock emergency’ which is interpreted very differently by many certifiers, especially when we are looking at goats and sheep. For dairy cows there should be no reason for synthetic parasiticides use and the only exception may be for young breeding stock that are grazing infected pastures.
NODPA has suggested the following definition of livestock emergency in its comments to NOSB and USDA.
Definition of livestock emergency:
An urgent, non-routine situation in which the organic system plan’s preventive measures and veterinary biologics are proven, by laboratory analysis and visual inspection, to be inadequate to prevent illness or to alleviate pain and suffering, a producer must administer the emergency treatment (§205.238(c)(7)). Organic certification will be retained provided, that, such treatments are allowed under § 205.603 and the organic system plan is changed to prevent a similar livestock emergency in individual animals or the whole herd/flock in future years as required under §205.238(a).
Livestock Committee votes
The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances identifies the synthetic substances that may be used and the nonsynthetic (natural) substances that may not be used in organic crop and livestock production.
§ 205.603 is the section that defines synthetic substances allowed for use in organic livestock production with restrictions as specified.
The arguments go on about whether the NOP will prohibit hydroponics in organic certification despite the massive protest from producers across the country that it should be banned. In their discussions about a vote by the NOSB on the issue, NOSB members got bogged down in the technicalities of the NOSB process and the subsequent regulatory requirements of what NOP have called a significant rulemaking that would go to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Common sense failed to assert itself and the issue was returned to the crops subcommittee. Once again, as with pasture, organic poultry and tree fruit, the NOP is allowing its certifiers to interpret OFPA to suit their own preference and industry pressure while blaming the inadequacies of the Federal regulatory system for tying their hands. Hydroponic imports are decimating the produce market for soil based organic producers.
Because several members of the Board with strong views on the issue are leaving the Board, the NOSB voted on and passed the following statement:
Statement by the NOSB on Bioponics (including hydroponics, aeroponics or aquaponics)
The NOSB respects the efforts of the former NOSB that led to their 2010 recommendation on terrestrial plants in greenhouses
The NOSB recognizes that the foundation of organic agriculture is based upon a systems approach to producing food in the natural environment, which respects the complex dynamic interaction between soil, water, air, sunlight, plants and animals needed to produce a thriving agro-ecosystem.
At the heart of the organic philosophy is the belief that our responsibilities of good stewardship go beyond production of healthy foods and include protection of natural resources, biodiversity and the ecosystem services upon which we all depend.
We encourage future NOSB to consider this wider perspective as the board undertakes the challenges of assessing and defining innovations in agriculture that may or may not be compatible in a system of organic production.
In the case of the hydroponic/bioponic/aquaponic issue, the majority of the current members of the NOSB prefer to prohibit hydroponic systems that have an entirely water-based substrate. Although that was the original intent of the proposal before us today, the current proposal, as structured, does not achieve this objective. While the NOSB does not believe that the liquid substrate systems should be sold under the USDA organic label, these growers deserve the chance to promote their very commendable qualities and objectives in their own right.