This week is bittersweet because Sandy Mays, our Organic Compliance Services manager, is retiring, plus the disappointing news that the NOSB meeting just shifted from in-person to on-line.
Sandy’s plan is to only semi-retire and has agreed to continue helping our clients as a Wolf & Associates expert advisor. Sandy joined my efforts to help build an ethical organic industry back in 1989 and her contributions to making a difference are numerous. I’m pleased that she is stepping back from full-time work to enjoy some free time and that we’ll be able to continue to draw upon her knowledge and expertise to help our clients, products, and projects succeed.
Sandy’s dedication to customer service and deep knowledge of organic certification, sourcing, and system plans have been much appreciated over the years. Developing powerful Organic System Plans and helping businesses and certifiers address organic non-compliances are among her many strengths. Working closely with clients on a wide range of projects, Sandy has helped many businesses in the organic sector thrive, even in challenging times. By cultivating clients’ understanding of organic systems, she helped to lay the foundation for Wolf & Associates to become the leading advisory firm for championing organic integrity.
We are grateful for Sandy’s significant work for over three decades and welcome her now as an Associate, to continue sharing her deep expertise in organic, and we wish her every happiness in her semi-retirement.
As announced last month, John Foster now manages Wolf & Associates’ Organic Compliance Services and a growing team of experts who will all benefit from Sandy’s valuable expertise as we continue to grow and serve you.
In other news, a bright spot of the season has been our farm’s participation in regional agricultural events. Second Star Organic Farm won best of show and many other ribbons at the West Virginia state fair and numerous awards at Newport Agricultural Fair, the oldest agricultural fair in Virginia. We were able to attend these fairs before the COVID-19 delta variant became rampant, driving us to increase precautions and limit travel, including canceling plans to attend Natural Products Expo East in person. Wolf & Associates will be attending the Expo events online and are pleased that organizers have planned to livestream keynote speeches and other select activities.
Look for our NOSB meeting preview in the next week or so. In the meantime, have a great Labor Day holiday!
Wolf & Associates
NOSB October meeting goes online only
The next National Organic Standards Board meeting, scheduled for October 19-21 will be online only, not in person as previously planned. Oral comments will be October 13 and 14 via webinar. Written comments will be due September 30.
Apply for organic certification cost share by November 1
Organic producers and handlers can apply for financial assistance to cover 50 percent up to $500 of the costs of organic certification by a USDA-accredited certifier. Submit applications to Farm Service Agency county offices or through participating state agencies. More.
Comment on proposed National List changes
Based on recommendations submitted at the conclusion of the NOSB’s sunset review process, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service proposes removing the following synthetic substances currently allowed in organic crop and livestock production (7 CFR 205.601 and 205.603):
- Sucrose Octanoate Esters (crop production)
- Vitamin B1 (crop production)
- Oxytocin (livestock production)
- Procaine (livestock production)
- Sucrose Octanoate Esters (livestock production)
Additionally, AMS proposed removing the following nonorganic ingredients currently allowed in organic handling (§§ 205.605 and 205.606):
- Alginic acid
- Colors (black currant juice color, blueberry juice color, carrot juice color, cherry juice color, grape juice color, paprika color, pumpkin juice color, turmeric extract color)
- Konjac flour
- Sweet potato starch
- Turkish bay leaves
- Whey protein concentrate
Comment on docket number AMS-NOP-19-0106 by October 25, 2021.
California’s ‘OCal’ cannabis certification started July 14
California’s new “OCal” certification for cannabis and nonmanufactured cannabis products went into effect July 14, 2021. The program is designed to align with federal and state organic agriculture and production requirements and assure consumers that certified products meet a consistent standard. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) cannot expand organic certification under the National Organic program to cannabis until it is authorized to do so and cannabis production is legalized. More.
News & Notices
Budget heads toward reconciliation; House committees consider climate provisions
The US House and Senate have both adopted fiscal 2022 budget resolutions, paving the way for a budget reconciliation process that has the potential to include plans for an expansion of Medicare, child and elder care, family and sick leave and more in the $3.5 trillion dollar package. House committees have been given budget numbers for some climate-related provisions within the broad framework:
The Agriculture Committee—$135 billion for
- Agriculture conservation, drought, and forestry programs to help reduce carbon emissions and prevent wildfires
- Rural development and rural co-op clean energy investments
- Agricultural climate research and research infrastructure
- Civilian Climate Corps funding
- Child nutrition
- Debt relief
The Energy Committee—$198 billion for
- Clean Electricity Payment Program
- Consumer rebates to weatherize and electrify homes
- Financing for domestic manufacturing of clean energy and auto supply chain technologies
- Federal procurement of energy efficient materials
- Climate research
- Research infrastructure for DOE National Labs
Committee on Environment and Public Works—$67 billion for
- Clean Energy Technology Accelerator that would fund low-income solar and other climate-friendly technologies
- Environmental justice investments in clean water affordability and access, healthy ports, and climate equity
- EPA climate and research programs
- Federal investments in energy efficient buildings and green materials
- Appalachian Regional Commission and Economic Development Administration economic development and transition programs
- Investments in clean vehicles
- Methane polluter fee to reduce carbon emissions
US infrastructure measures include some climate mitigation funding
The US Senate passed a bipartisan infrastructure package on August 12. Part of the $767 billion highway and water reauthorization bill, the $550 billion package includes increases for climate mitigation and adaptation.
Some infrastructure upgrades related to climate change included in the package:
$65 billion to upgrade and expand power lines and renewable energy use
$50 billion for climate resiliency to protect critical physical and natural infrastructure
$39 billion to modernize public transportation
$7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging stations
$3.4 billion for wildfire risk reduction
$2.1 billion for ecosystem restoration
Up to $30 million per state in grants for methane reduction stemming from orphaned wells and mines
The House is slated to vote on its infrastructure bill by September 27.
USDA to amp up surveillance for emerging and zoonotic diseases
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service invites public comment on a Strategic Framework that outlines how the Agency will focus its efforts to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as well as other emerging and zoonotic diseases that could pose a threat to both people and animals. APHIS will tap into $300 million to conduct disease surveillance and build an early warning system to alert public health partners of potential threats. Using a holistic approach, the agency seeks to implement a risk-based, comprehensive, integrated disease monitoring and surveillance system domestically, and enhance collaborations with national, regional, and global partners. Comment on the Strategic Framework (docket number APHIS-2021-0061) by October 8.
EPA to ban chlorpyrifos in food
The Environmental Protection Agency will ban use of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide linked to neurological damage in children, from use on food crops. In compliance with a court order, the final rule (docket HQ-OPP-2021-0523) that revokes all tolerances for food use will be published without public comment, and will be effective six months after it is published in the Federal Register. More.
EPA reverses course on paraquat use
In an interim final decision August 2, the Environmental Protection Agency renewed the approval of the herbicide paraquat, and allowed its use on a broader range of crops than its initial proposal in October 2020, when EPA sought to ban its use except as a desiccant for cotton. The change in course was driven in part by data supplied by Agricultural Handler Exposure Task Force (AHETF), a consortium of chemical corporations, including purveyors of paraquat. An extremely toxic herbicide, previous studies have linked it to Parkinson’s Disease, and ingesting even small amounts of paraquat can be deadly to human and other animals.
Biological evaluations reveal neonicotinoids likely to adversely affect certain animals and plants
EPA reviews show that three neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam) are likely to adversely affect certain species on the Endangered Species Act list or their critical habitats. Done as part of the reregistration process for pesticides, the draft biological evaluations for these three neonicotinoid insecticides are available for comment on regulations.gov as part of docket number EPA-HQ-OPP-2021-0575-0001 until October 25. A finding of ‘likely to adversely affect’ means that EPA reasonably expects that at least one listed individual animal or plant may be exposed to the pesticide at a sufficient level to have an effect, which will be adverse. More.
Food Labeling Modernization Act to define ‘natural’
The latest version of the Food Labeling Modernization Act, a 35-page bill introduced to both Houses of Congress August 3, 2021, seeks to define ‘natural’ by directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to include regulations on the use of the term ‘natural’ on food labeling. If passed, the bill also calls on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to establish a standard front-of package labeling system for all FDA-regulated food products. Among other changes, the bill would require nutrition information at the online point of sale, would change standards of identity to allow salt substitutes in some foods, and would require amounts per serving for products making claims about healthy ingredients. More.
Comment on OMRI Standards Manual
The Organic Materials Review Institute is accepting comments on its next update of the OMRI Standards Manual until September 17. As part of continuous improvement, OMRI is especially interested in the following sections of the manual:
- Introductory paragraphs in Appendix A: Livestock Vitamins and Minerals that include references to 21 CFR and AAFCO. Are these references complete and accurate?
- Generic livestock feed restrictions currently included in some, but not all, GML categories in the Livestock Feed Ingredients (LF) class. OMRI staff are considering removing all generic livestock feed restrictions for these categories and expanding on the §205.237(b)(2) restriction in the LF class description.
- Definition of “humates” in the Glossary of Terms. Following NOP clarification, OMRI staff recognize that allowed humate sources are not limited to leonardite, lignite and coal; additional allowed sources include peat and shilajit.
- Policy change concerning final pesticide products that formulate with synthetic 2004 EPA List 4 inerts
To submit comments, complete OMRI’s Policy and Standards comment form and submit to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 17. Comments should identify the commenter, clearly state the proposed revision, and describe the purpose of and need for the proposed revision.
Natural Products Expo East adds health and safety requirements
Slated for September 22-25 in Philadelphia, the Natural Products Expo East trade show will require masks and either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID tests within 72 hours of all participants. Open sampling will require gloves, sneeze guards and handwashing kits. More.
Get up to speed on climate issues
The Climate Collaborative offers sessions on “Global Warming: Moving from Overwhelmed to Action” and “Fighting Climate Change by Reducing Food Waste: Strategies for Action” starting at 10: 15 am Friday September 24 at Natural Products Expo East. More.
Coalition tackles principles to guide regulation of gene editing
Facilitated by the Keystone Policy Center, representatives of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Environmental Defense Fund, National Wildlife Federation, The Nature Conservancy, and World Wildlife Fund U.S. have published a position paper in the journal Nature Biotechnology covering principles for regulating gene editing in agriculture and the environment. After learning from the ways GMOs have been introduced, resulting in public mistrust, the authors seek “a more trusted, inclusive and tailored regulatory approach to gene editing.” In an effort to address inadequate oversight of new technologies, the principles include:
- Gene editing technologies should be applied safely and ethically; care should be taken to avoid substantial risk and deliver tangible societal benefits.
- Robust, inclusive societal engagement is essential.
- Effective, science-based government regulation is required for realizing the full benefits of gene editing and managing for risks.
- Voluntary stewardship and best practices should supplement regulatory oversight through engagement, transparency, and product assessments that consider a full range of risks and benefits (health and safety, social, economic, and ecological) prior to any release into the environment.
- The public should have access to clear information identifying which gene editing applications are in use in food, agriculture, and the environment.
- Inclusive access to gene editing technology and resources can help drive societal benefit.
Comment on GMO soy deregulation
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) seeks public comment on the draft Environmental Assessment and draft Plant Pest Risk Assessment for deregulation of a BASF Corporation soybean variety developed using genetic engineering for resistance to soybean cyst nematode, a microscopic parasitic worm, and for herbicide tolerance. Submit comments through September 16, 2021 on docket number APHIS-2020-0023.