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Report from the May 2009 NOSB Meeting

By Ed Maltby, NODPA Director

Added June 1, 2009.
The National Organic Standards Board met in Washington, D.C. from May 4 – May 6, 2009. Barbara Robinson, Acting Director of the National Organic Program, provided an update on NOP activities including:

  • A budget increase of $630,000 for Fiscal Year 2009; they are hoping for an increase to $6 million for FY 2010. This additional funding will allow hiring of additional staff.
  • There is a recommendation to move the NOP out of the Transportation and Marketing division and create its own division. It would remain in the AMS and would report to the director of the AMS, and be on par with Livestock & Seed and Transportation & Marketing.
  • The establishment of the People’s Garden. Valerie Frances, NOSB Executive Director, has taken on the responsibility of coordinating efforts for this garden.
  • The Office of Inspector General is continuing its review of the NOP; a report is expected by the end of the year.
  • 19,000 comments were received on the Pasture Rule. These are currently being reviewed. The goal is to post new proposal later this year.
  • Shannon Nally is beginning work on the Origin of Livestock rulemaking.
  • Moving forward with creation of the on-line training modules. Will demonstrate work at the All Things Organic meeting in June.
  • Planning a retreat for program staff; Audit, Review & Compliance, Office of General Council, and the Appeals branches have also been invited.
  • Asked NOSB to consider a working session to include NOP staff in order to prioritize work of the NOSB. This would be similar to the dairy symposium. Public would observe, but not participate. This request was brought about by having 65 NOSB recommendations that the NOP has not acted upon and questioning the need for so many recommendations.
  • Seeking nominations for (5) upcoming vacancies on the NOSB. The positions to be filled are: organic producer (2), retailer (1), organic handler (1), and an environmentalist (1).
  • Audit, Review & Compliance has received National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) accreditation.
  • NOP is developing a standardized affidavit for use with flavors. Seeking approval from the Office of General Council.
  • Expect to sign Canadian Equivalency agreement at All Things Organic.
  • One materials docket has been returned from Office of General Council review.

On Tuesday morning, Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, addressed the National Organic Standards Board. Kathleen discussed the relocation of the National Organic Program, and the hiring of a permanent director (see ACA meets with Kathleen Merrigan article). The other announcement was for the $50 million dollars available through the EQUIP program for transition to organic agriculture and for the implementation of additional practices on existing organic farms.

Votes of interest to livestock producers:

Propionic Acid - recommendation on its petitioned use as a mold inhibitor for use in hay & grain - not passed.

Vitamins and Minerals injected as supplements - New section of National List created for this listing: §205.603(g) Addition will read:

As nutritive supplements, formulated injectables of trace minerals per §205.603(d)(2), vitamins per §205.603 (d)(3) and electrolytes per §205.603(a)(8), with excipients per §205.603 (f), in accordance with FDA and restricted to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. Passed by NOSB.

The work of the NOSB Livestock Committee for the next year :

  • Animal Welfare
  • Bivalves
  • Vaccine – looking at GMO’s
  • Excipient section change §205.603(f) from “drug” to “animal health products”; look at APHIS biologics
  • Materials
  • Apiculture
  • Sunset 2012