This week is especially a time to give thanks and be grateful for the amazing place we live in, where we get to vote and have our votes count. Allow me to share more of our team’s thoughts as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday:
- Thankful that the pandemic is under control enough that we can hug and see family, friends, and associates in person again;
- Thankful to be a part of a thriving community that is conscientious about our impacts on future generations and the opportunities that we have had this year to make a difference for the people in our lives (including our clients!);
- Thankful that this month’s newsletter has at least 16 articles full of hope and progress;
- Grateful for many things…when the last few years have been so trying and so hard for so many, feeling beyond fortunate for the continuing physical and mental wellbeing of family and friends;
- …for having a workplace that feels like home – to spend our working hours among friends and colleagues we genuinely admire, respect and enjoy as we collaborate to be catalysts for positive change;
- …for hot fires in the woodstove, cold nights, warm pies, and cool cocktails—and the time to enjoy them all.
Above all, we are thankful tor the opportunity to help our clients as we strive to make a difference together in these challenging times.
Organic Regulatory Updates
NOP Issues Notice Of Proposed Suspension
To Texas Department Of Agriculture
After a series of unresolved noncompliances at the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA), the National Organic Program issued a Notice of Noncompliance and Proposed Suspension in February for the TDA’s accreditation as an organic certifier. TDA’s appeal was rejected in August, but they have requested an administrative hearing and continue to provide organic certification until the case is resolved. If the suspension moves forward, TDA would only be eligible to request reinstatement after it completes a one-year suspension of organic certification services. Read the NOP’s August appeal decision.
New Deadline For Comments On Proposed Rulemaking For Inert Ingredients
Comments for the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Inert Ingredients in Pesticides are now due December 31. USDA National Organic Program seeks comments on five options for rectifying how to regulate ‘inert’ ingredients in pesticides allowed for use in organic production. The National List currently uses Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) inert ingredient lists, but these lists are no longer maintained by EPA and are out of date. Among the options are: allowing inert ingredients permitted by EPA in minimum risk pesticides; allowing specific inert ingredients permitted by EPA; Replace EPA List 3 with EPA-allowed inert ingredients of semiochemical dispensers; or listing inert ingredients individually on the national list. Comment on docket number AMS-NOP-21-0008 via www.federalregister.gov.
TOPP Program Moves Ahead
The USDA announced lead cooperating partners for each region in its Transition to Organic Partnership Program: Pennsylvania Certified Organic (Mid-Atlantic/Northeast), Florida Organic Growers (Southeast), Midwest Organic Services Association Inc (Midwest), Organic Crop Improvement Association (Plains), CCOF Foundation (West/Southwest), and Oregon Tilth (Northwest). Organizations participating in the partnership network will work together to establish a paid farmer-to-farmer mentorship program providing direct farmer training, education, and outreach activities. Interested farmers and organizations can sign up online.
Get A Handle On Programs For Organic, Local, And Regional Food Producers
A webinar on the Organic Integrity Learning Center—USDA AMS Grants, Cooperative Agreements, Technical Assistance, and Resources Overview—provides a review of USDA investments in the Food System Transformation Framework, especially those programs that support local and regional food systems.
Organic Regulations Updated
USDA published a final rule that adds two substances to the National List:
- Paper-based planting aids, also known as “paper pots,” for transplanting crops on organic farms.
- Low-acyl gellan gum for use as a thickener, stabilizer, or gelling agent in organic products like beverages, icing, dessert fillings and confections, and capsules for supplements.
The rule also corrects a spelling error on the National List, changing “wood resin” to “wood rosin.”
Hydroponic Growing Remains Eligible For Organic Certification
The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision to allow the United States Department of Agriculture to include hydroponic operations as eligible to participate in the National Organic Program. The final ruling on September 22 is the result of a lawsuit brought by the Center for Food Safety in 2020 when the USDA did not act on a petition to exclude hydroponic operations from organic certification. More.
Mexico’s Lawmakers Explore A Pesticide Ban
A coalition of Mexican lawmakers wants to phase out 183 chemicals used in pesticides by 2024. Mexico’s agrochemical manufacturers’ union estimates that if it were passed, such a ban would eliminate 60% of the pesticides currently registered in Mexico. The bill first needs to make it out of committees in the Mexican senate, and then pass a vote there and in the lower house. More.
Kenya Ends GMO Ban
With the hope that yields will increase in the face of the worst drought in 40 years, Kenya has lifted a ban on cultivating and importing GMO corn. In November 2012, the country prohibited the open cultivation and importing of food crops and animal feed produced through biotech innovations, but approved use of a GMO cotton resistant to African bollworm in 2019. More.
Court Nixes QR Code Labels For
Putting a QR code on a label is not adequate for informing consumers that a food has been bioengineered, ruled a federal court in San Francisco. The decision is a result of a lawsuit against the USDA that the Center for Food Safety filed on behalf of a coalition of nonprofits and retailers in 2020. USDA rulemaking in 2018 allowed the use of QR codes alone on packaging, even after USDA found the QR code labeling insufficient.
US Biotechnology Manufacturing To Get a Boost
A new Biden Administration Executive Order will launch a National Biotechnology and Biomanufacturing Initiative to encourage domestic production of biotechnology, expand markets for bio-based products, foster research and development, improve access to data, train workers, streamline regulations for biotechnology products, and more. United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and Environmental Protection Association will all be involved in the project. More.
Mexico Rejects GMO Corn Seeds, But Approves Other GMO Varieties
Agri-pulse magazine reports that despite no public announcements of the decisions, Mexico’s health regulator has been approving and rejecting seeds with GMO traits with a bias against glyphosate-resistant corn seeds. Eight GMO traits have been approved in canola, cotton, potato and corn seeds. Mexico will ban GMO corn for human consumption starting in 2024. More.
Inside the Beltway
Comment On How ‘Healthy’ Should Be Used On Food Labels
The US Food and Drug Administration has proposed changes to what counts as ‘healthy’ when the term is used on food labels. The proposal requires that food products contain a certain amount of food from at least one of the food groups or subgroups recommended by the Dietary Guidelines, 2020-2025 and limits certain nutrients, including saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars. Comment on the proposal until December 28, 2022.
Comment Opportunity On ‘Sustainability’ Coming Soon
The Federal Trade commission will soon update its “Green Guides” that provide guidance for marketers making environmental claims. Last updated in 2012, the Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims will likely include guidance on climate-related claims and sustainability this time around.
Climate-Smart Pilot Projects Get Funding
Using its first pool of funding in the Partnerships for Climate Smart Commodities, USDA awarded $2.8 billion for 70 climate-smart agriculture and forestry pilot projects ranging from $5 million to $100 million. Additional projects in the $250K to $5M range will be announced later in the year. Several projects have significant organic components.
Grants Support Independent Meat Processors
USDA’s Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP) awarded $73 million in 21 grant projects to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and increase competition, especially for independent processors. One recipient specifically mentions organic processing. More.
Farm Resources In A Nutshell
Beginning, socially disadvantaged, military veteran, and other underserved farmers and ranchers can find information from the USDA on farm loans, crop insurance, conservation programs, disaster assistance and more in Get Started: A Guide to USDA Resources for Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers. Spanish, Hmong, Korean, Vietnamese, Thai, and Chinese versions are also available.
USDA Funds Programs To Develop Crop Insurance Workforce
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established two new partnerships that will train the next generation of crop insurance agents, adjusters and outreach educators about crop insurance options. The Intertribal Agricultural Council (IAC), received about $1.9 million, and the Southern Risk Management Education Center at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture received about $1.4 million to increase the representation of underserved insurance agents and loss adjusters providing service to underserved communities.
Organic Industry News & Notices
Meet Business Contacts in Ukraine, Serbia, and Albania
IFOAM Organics International is one of the sponsors of Organic Export Days 2022, an online matchmaking event that brings together qualified exporters from Ukraine, Serbia and Albania that offer organic products. The event runs November 22 to December 2, and registration by November 30 is required.
General Mills Donates Cascadian Farms Home Farm
Rodale Institute is the new owner of the Cascadian Farm Home Farm in Skagit Valley, Washington, thanks to a donation from previous owner General Mills. Started as a working organic farm in 1972, Cascadian Farm remained open to visitors after General Mills acquired the brand. Rodale Institute intends to open the Rodale Institute Northwest Organic Center at Cascadian Farm.
Overall Organic Acreage Dips in 2022
The total amount of land under certified organic production in the United States decreased 4.4% from September 2021 to September 2022, reports Mercaris, based on data from its propriety Acreage Analyzer. The reduction is primarily in organic pasture and rangeland, as land used for organic field crops were up 3%. Harvested acres of organic soybeans were expected to increase 16%, for example, but organic corn acreage was down 2% and organic wheat was down 1%. More.
Grants Help Underserved Farmers
In order to help expand organic acreage and increase availability of sustainably-grown fruits and vegetables, Daily Harvest in partnership with American Farmland Trust and California Certified Organic Farmers provided grants to 12 farmers. Part of a multi-year effort, the grants support historically underserved farmers in California’s Central Valley and Central Coast.
New Funding Opportunity To Mitigate Greenhouse Gases From Dairies
Neutral Foods, which offers carbon-neutral dairy products, will partner with FarmRaise, a farm funding software platform, to provide financial support for adopting climate-smart agricultural practices. Neutral Foods pledged $1 million through 2023 to fund projects near its existing supplier sheds in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and California with the intent to expand beyond these regions. Funding applications will be considered based on each project’s climate impact, financial feasibility, and other environmental, social, and economic benefits.
The Survey Says…
More Shoppers Connecting Personal Health With A Healthy Environment
A study from HealthFocus International found that consumers are beginning to connect personal health with environmental health when they are choosing what to eat. In a survey of 100 consumers in North America, 74% say the health of the environment is “extremely important” or “important” to their overall health, outranking diet and exercise. Plastic waste, pollution, and chemicals, toxins or heavy metals in the food supply, climate change, and food waste are the top five environmental concerns among those surveyed. More.
Climate Change Is Consumers’ Top Environmental Concern Globally
For 40% of respondents in the 2022 Mintel Consulting Sustainability Barometer, having an explanation of how their purchase directly benefits the environment would encourage sustainable shopping. The Barometer surveyed consumers around the world and found that concerns about climate change, water shortages, and food shortages have all increased in the past year. About 46% of consumers globally cite climate change as one of the top three concerns, making it the world’s highest environmental priority for the survey respondents. Air quality and plastic pollution complete the top three issues.
Pesticide Use Contributes to Climate Change
In a preview of its upcoming report on pesticides and climate change, Pesticide Action Network found that that pesticides contribute to climate change throughout their lifecycle. Made primarily from fossil fuels, synthetic pesticides require 10 times more energy than an equal amount of nitrogen fertilizer. Pesticide use is projected to increase as climate change exacerbates pest pressure—a vicious cycle, they conclude. The full report is expected in early 2023.
Pesticide Use Up Significantly Since 1990
A new Pesticide Atlas found that pesticides are responsible for 11,000 human fatalities and 385 poisonings globally each year. Of the poisonings tallied in the report, 255 million were in Asia, and 100 million were in Africa. Overall, global pesticide use has increased 80% since 1990. More.
Use of Shared Kitchens Heats Up
Shared Kitchens and Food Startups, a report from USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service, Colorado State University and the Food Corridor, found that 30% of respondents in its 2021 survey had been operating their businesses since 2020, and 54% of businesses were between 2-5 years old. The top categories for businesses using shared kitchens were consumer packaged goods (24%), catering (20%), and baking (17%).
Local Food System Research Gleans Insights From Pandemic
In a project designed in part to build resilience in the food system by gleaning lessons from the pandemic, researchers at USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, Colorado State University, the University of Kentucky and more examined how consumer food choices changed in 2020 and 2021, especially around local and regional food systems. Among the findings were that for shoppers who tried a market channel that was new to them, such as a farmers market, independent restaurant, or food box, 76% expect to increase or maintain their purchases from new channels. Independent local restaurants and artisan or specialty markets had the greatest share of new consumers intending to continue purchasing the same amount or more from them in the next year.
Whole Foods Issues Its Trend Predictions For 2023
A Trends Council at Whole Foods picked the top ten product trends for 2023. Among them:
Yaupon (a caffeinated plant found in the southeastern United States) beverages, baking products made with byproducts of nondairy milk production, plant-based pasta alternatives, dates, increased interest in welfare of poultry, kelp, labels with climate information, comfort foods with better ingredients, supplements for pets, and avocado oil.