cows in field

NOSB Spring Meeting, April 26, 2022

Compiled by Ed Maltby from reports by National Organic Coalition and Organic Trade Association

On April 26, 2022, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) started its three-day biannual public meeting via live webinar. NOSB considered 7 proposals, 4 discussion documents, and over 30 sunset materials. The meeting welcomed four new NOSB members Elizabeth Graznak (resource conservationist), Allison Johnson (public interest), Dr. Dilip Nandwani (scientist), and Javier Zamora (producer).

Dr. Jenny Tucker, Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program (NOP), provided an update on NOP activities and priorities, and unveiled a new database to track petitioned substances. Sean Babington, USDA Senior Climate Advisor, and Adam Chambers of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, each gave presentations on the important role of organic agriculture in USDA’s initiative to support climate-smart agriculture. Mat Ngouajio, National Science Liaison, Institute of Food Production and Sustainability, provided an update on Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions (ORG) programs that support organic agriculture. Kiki Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance presented a report on the State of Organic Seed, highlighting the climate benefits of organic seed and its importance to organic integrity.

Some key points that relate to organic dairy specifically:

  • Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) Proposed Rule was submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in December 2022. NOP is working with OMB to support its review process.
  • Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Final Rule is in legal review (an early step in USDA clearance process after it leaves the NOP).
  • As a result of public comments, NOP is elevating the NOSB recommendations to strengthen organic seed usage and develop specific standards for hydroponic and container production.
  • Going forward, NOP is committed to greater transparency and accountability around its rulemaking priorities and decisions.
  • Highly soluble Nitrogen Fertilizers: NOSB unanimously voted in favor of the motion to add at §205.105: “Nitrogen fertilizers with a C: N ratio of 3:1 or less, including those individual components of a blended fertilizer formulation, are limited unless use is restricted to a cumulative total use of 20% of crop needs.” NOSB members recognized concerns from commenters about potential recordkeeping burdens for farmers and that certifiers will have a significant role in evaluating whether inputs in a farm’s Organic System Plan would be subjected to this restriction.
  • USDA will proceed with the rulemaking process to prohibit ammonia extracts as recommended by the NOSB in its Fall 2021 Recommendation.
  • NOSB positions are not financially compensated, and many Board members have full time jobs. The time investment and workload for NOSB members can be 10-15 hours per week and this can potentially limit the number of people willing to take on board membership. There is widespread agreement that NOSB members need help to manage the workload and technical information, and that such support is critical to removing barriers for underrepresented persons serving on the Board. It is also critical that support has transparency and avoids any bias or conflicts of interest.

LIVESTOCK 2024 SUNSET REVIEW (DISCUSSION): NOSB summarized public comments for each materials undergoing sunset review.

  1. Chlorhexidine (surgical antimicrobial; teat dip) – Majority of comments support relisting.
  2. Glucose (ketosis treatment) – All comments support relisting.
  3. Tolazoline (sedative reversal) – Most comments are supportive of relisting and no substitutes were identified.
  4. Copper Sulfate (hoof treatment) – Overall, comments are supportive.
  5. Elemental Sulfur (external pest control) – Most comments are supportive of relisting. One opposing comment did not identify effective alternatives.
  6. Lidocaine (topical anesthetic) – Support for relisting. Considered an important tool for animal welfare.