cows in field

NOSB MEETING, Stowe, Vermont

Oct 26-29, 2015

By Dr. Jean Richardson

The meeting in Stowe was very well attended, with about 200 attendees, including 110 people who made public comment. This was in addition to the 35 additional people who had provided public comment during the Webinar format public comment in the two weeks prior to the Stowe meeting. These opportunities for public comment via an internet webinar allowed the NOSB to receive comment from farmers and veterinarians and others who could not come to the meeting in Stowe, including one person calling in from Australia to support the addition of sodium and potassium lactate for use in meat processing.

Public Comment was certainly one of the highlights for me. About 20 local farmers presented their perspectives on some of the materials which were up for Sunset Review. They were incredibly eloquent and provided excellent information on bioplastic mulch, parasiticides, lidocaine and procaine, GMO contaminations, and hydroponics. Dr Verne Grubinger provided research results from the Northeast indicating that copper materials do not accumulate in our soils and that they should remain on the National List. Dr Kent Henderson provided an enormous amount of detail on the parasiticides which provided us with recent scientific information to support NODPA’s request to shorten the withholding periods after emergency parasite treatment. Ed Maltby, NODPA Executive Director, spoke in support of the proposed shortening of withholding periods.

Public comment also took the form of a demonstration/protest to support the NOSB in its 2010 recommendation that soil is a required component to get organic certification, and thus hydroponics should not be certified organic. In courteous Vermont style, the protest leaders contacted me as Chair ahead of time, and I worked with them to help make this an effective, positive demonstration. It was held at lunchtime, with tractors and a parade with signs and talks from speakers standing on a pile of compost in the parking lot at the conference center, with a friendly, smiling cop on hand! The sun was shining and the speakers were eloquent.
The five-year Sunset Review requires two opportunities for public comment, and NODPA provided comments both times in regards to a number of materials, including Lidocaine and Procaine, and the parasiticides Ivermectin, Fenbenzadole and Moxidectin. Lidocaine and procaine, two local anesthetics, were voted to remain on the National List, and information provided by NODPA as well as many others, will allow us to provide a specific proposal at the April 2016 meeting to shorten the withholding times from the present 90 days to 8 days after administering lidocaine or procaine to livestock intended for slaughter, and 7 days for administering to dairy animals. After considerable discussion, all three parasiticides were voted to remain on the National List at the present time. We had expected to remove Ivermectin because of its impact on dung beetles which are so vital for good pasture management, but sheep and goat producers appear to use Ivermectin as the preferred parasiticide, especially in the Western states. Ivermectin, which can be bought over the counter, is not used much on dairy farms, but western sheep producers do not seem to use fenbenzadole, which requires a veterinarian, and moxidectin is presently listed as external use only. In addition, there is apparent confusion over which parasites can be controlled by fenbenzadole as compared with Ivermectin. The discussion in Stowe, and extensive public comment, will allow the NOSB Livestock Committee to present a proposal to the full NOSB to reduce withholding times on Fenbenzdole and moxidectin, although the withholding time for Ivermectin will remain at 90 days. The proposal will allow for both internal and external use of moxidectin, and probably allow all parasiticides to be used without need for a veterinarian. In addition, the NOSB will be recommending that sheep fleece can be sold as organic even if parasiticides have had to be used in emergency situations.

Furosemide was voted to be removed from the National List based on public comment received stating that it was not needed, and on recommendation of well known dairy veterinarians that there are plenty of alternatives for control of parturient edema. However, the day after this vote we received verbal comments from an agricultural consultant, a farmer and a certifier saying that furosemide is used by dairy farmers in the Northeast, although not frequently. The issue may be that most dairy farmers do not use the name furosemide, but recognize the medicine as Lasix. There will be a further chance to make public comment when the Rule Making process begins, and, undoubtedly, Ed Maltby will let you know when that period of public comment opens.

I completed my term as NOSB Chair, but I still have one more year on the NOSB so as always you should feel free to contact me. As a member of the Livestock subcommittee, I will be leading the Lidocaine/procaine and parasiticide proposals to reduce withholding times.

The new Chair is Tracy Favre from Granbury, Texas where she has a small farm. She is also an organic inspector and sits on the Livestock subcommittee. She will be a great Chair.