It’s that time of year again – the sap is flowing – flowers are budding, and cover crops are getting turned into rich organic loam. It’s spring – the time when the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) convenes for its biannual public meeting.
These meetings are important to everyone involved in the organic industry, and there are several ways to get involved.
The NOSB is a 15-member advisory committee that considers and makes recommendations on what is allowed in organic production and handling.
They provide critical input to the USDA Secretary of Ag on many other things involving the production, handling, and processing of USDA certified organic products.
Two times each year the committee meets in different locations across the country. They always post an agenda and invite stakeholders to sign up and make public comment.
Attend the upcoming Spring meeting!
Why should you travel to the Pacific Northwest? Not only to sample the organic apples, artisanal chocolates, and feast on Geoduck but also to attend the next NOSB meeting! It takes place from Wednesday, April 24thto Friday, April 26thin Seattle, Washington.
If you farm, sell, produce, or eat organic foods or manufacture or use organic textiles, this meeting is meant for you. See the agenda here. The board will be discussing everything from adding new materials to sunsetting old ones. Seed purity, new gene editing, fraud prevention, and vaccines will all be under review.
Big decisions are made at these meetings about what is allowed and prohibited in organic production. If stakeholders don’t show up, things can change radically, and it can affect your business.
Who can serve on the NOSB?
The composition of the NOSB was carefully designed to ensure balanced stakeholder input into the rulemaking process.
Congress structured the Board so that farmers and handlers involved in organic production receive six seats, with the same number for consumer and environmental organizations. There is one seat for a retailer, a certifier, and a scientist. This composition ensures that the diversity of the organic community is represented.
The USDA is currently seeking nominees to fill five vacant seats on the NOSB. The Secretary of Agriculture will appoint the new members for five-year terms beginning in January 2020.
The current vacancies include:
- One individual with expertise in areas of environmental protection and resource conservation.
- One individual who owns or operates an organic farming operation or an employee of such individuals.
- One individual who owns or operates a retail establishment with significant trade in organic products or an employee of such individuals.
- Two individuals who own or operate an organic handling operation or an employee of such individuals.
USDA is also accepting nominations of qualified candidates to fill future unexpected vacancies in any of the seven categories representing the scope of the organic agricultural community.
Find the criteria for being an NOSB member here.
Don’t delay; the deadline for nominations is May 20th, and the new appointees will be announced at the fall meeting in Pittsburg, PA, October 23rd-25th.
The National Organic Program Wants You!
If you’re ready to throw your name in the hat, your written nomination must include a resume and this AD-755 application form. You should also include a cover letter and letters of recommendation for good measure.
Nominations can be emailed to Michelle.Arsenault@ams.usda.gov,
or mailed to: USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 2642-S., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268.
Sitting on the NOSB is a time-consuming, thought-provoking volunteer position. It requires someone willing to consider all angles and listen to the entire organic community. It can be an exhaustive and high-profile position, sometimes fraught with controversy.
Why then should you consider serving?
Because organic creates opportunities for farmers and food manufacturers in an area that outpaces all other food sales in the US. Organic provides price premiums for farmers and ranchers while supporting the next generation of American farmers.
Organic creates jobs, stimulates local economies, reduces poverty rates, and raises median household incomes.
Not to mention it can mitigate climate change through practices that sequester carbon, lower energy usage, and reduce emissions.
Providing leadership in an industry that protects our soil and water, our pollinators and farm workers is a noble task worthy of your consideration.
The National Organic Program Wants you to apply by May 20th, 2019.