The National Organic Standards Board, NOSB, meets biannually to vote on new proposals, take comments from the public and discuss issues facing the organic community. This time, the meeting was in our neck of the woods in Seattle. The day before the meeting was the Pre-NOSB meeting, which was run by the National Organic Coalition (NOC) and covered a variety of topics that the NOSB would be discussing. At the meeting, there were many people from Washington DC, including a Farm Census staff member and the Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program (NOP) that enforces the organic standards and regulatory framework of organics. There were a variety of panels and top priority topics for organics that were covered.
The day began with a panel on the top priorities to advance organic integrity. On this panel, there were representatives from the Organic Farmers Association, Organic Trade Association and National Organic Coalition. Some of the top priorities discussed were the importance of fraud prevention with imported products and seeds, the definition of organic crop production, origin of livestock standards and grazing enforcement for livestock farmers, and creating more consistency across verifying agencies. There was a focus on addressing these problems with effective solutions, long term goals and continuous improvements.
A farmer panel continued discussing these issues in further detail, from a field perspective. The panel included farmers and owners of Blue Heron Farm, Garnetts Red Prairie Farm, Pure Eire Dairy, Providence Farms and Ela Family Farms. The organic response to climate change was on many people’s minds, looking to regenerative agriculture to deflect and combat these issues, including soil health, water availability and sustainable resources. The panel encouraged promotion of organic research and young farmer voices to be involved in policy decisions. They expressed concern over the integrity of the organic seal and oversight of standards of those who certify. Many farmers that would like to have shared their voice were on their own farms working, but the NOSB can be reached for comments via email and phone as well.
The afternoon consisted of shorter panel discussions on genetic integrity, sanitizer use and farm bill updates. The next few days were the actual NOSB meeting with further panel discussions and time for public comment. We are excited to be on the forefront of the organic policy movement and to be as best informed as possible for our customers. Osborne Quality Seeds is certified as an organic handler by WSDA (Washington State Department of Agriculture).