What’s at Stake at Next Week’s National Organic Standards Board Meeting?


By Melody Meyer

It’s spring time in the Rockies and I will be heading to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) biannual meeting which provides an opportunity for organic stakeholders to give input on proposed recommendations and discussions.  These meetings can decide the fate of organic farming and manufacturing for many years to come.  Indeed the very future of organic is held in the hands of the 15 individuals on the board.

Ocean Mist

So it’s important to show up.

I attend each meeting to make public comment, and network with colleagues.  Of greater import, I show up to listen and learn to get a read on the openness of our organic process.  Will we move forward with new ideas, common sense and thoughtful leadership?  Or will organic be reduced to its purist smallest self to placate those who seek perfection over the greater good of the movement?  There is much at stake this year and I am eternally hungry for the outcome. 

Organic production isn’t accomplished by doing nothing; instead inputs, amendments, innovative techniques and processes are constantly needed.  So the matter at hand is how many tools we include in the toolbox to insure purity as well as the continued growth of organic acreage and farmers.

Wholesum Family Farms

A thoughtful balance must be achieved when considering adding or deleting items from the allowed list of inputs.  Organic farmers need a complete and well equipped toolbox to build the infrastructure of healthy soils and vital crops. 

The NOSB meeting materials provides a thorough summary of the subcommittee proposals .

Some of the items I will be watching closely are:

Awe Sum Organics

The Handling & Crops Committees will review a group of input materials that may “sunset” from the national list of allowed inputs. I believe materials that have been placed onto the National List for use in handling should remain on the national list if they are still essential to and compatible with organic production and handling practices and there are no commercially available alternative materials.  These decisions must be transparent, and based on the best current information and in the interest of the organic sector and public at large.

The question of whether hydroponics, bioponics and container growing should be allowed as certified organic will be ongoing with vociferous dialogue on both sides.  If these production methods are denied organic certification, what will become of the hundreds of family farmers who are already producing certified organic crops using these methods?

The essential discussion is around soil:  should all organic products be grown exclusively in the ground?  Can soil biology and the preservation of resources be achieved with innovative organic methods?  I will be listening with rapt attention to where we land.

AMF Farms / Bay Baby Produce

The board will delve into a discussion on converting virgin natural ecosystems into organic production.  I will urge the NOSB to eliminate the incentive to convert native unspoiled ecosystems into organic crop production.  Certain native lands can easily be certified without undergoing the three year transition process.  I believe some native ecosystems should be protected -- even from organic.

The ongoing dialogue is the nexus of traditional beliefs laid down in the first regulations and a collision of new technologies and innovative ways of producing food.  It’s a plexus of the old nerves and blood vessels carrying young blood to the organic movement through new pathways.  Can we get innovative juices to new areas of the agronomic body?

I think Organic is in its adolescence stage, waiting to burst forth into maturity.  The organic standards must be nurtured, spoon-fed, fertilized, hybridized and organized with enough nourishment so that the adolescent can continue to grow.  That growth must come from balanced consideration of the future while rooted in visions of the past. 

Organic Produce Network (OPN)

Organic is the most transparent, public open source standard in the world.  Let’s be accessible to creativity and let’s not reject progress for attaining perfection.  We need to allow for the most progressive and positive tools for organic farmers.  If we are to eliminate toxic pesticides from our food system we must grow organic to more than 2% of US agriculture. 

The next NOSB meeting is open to the public.  It begins Wednesday, April 19, 2017 at 8:30 a.m. and ends Friday, April 21, 2017 at 6:00 p.m., at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel.  If you are a Twitter user you can follow along with the hashtag #NOSB.

Organic Grower Summit
Organic Certification for Bioponics? Advocates pro and con eager for a decision

Organic Certification for Bioponics? Advocates pro and con eager for a decision


The future of organic certification for hydroponic, aquaponic, aeroponic, and other non-soil crops is likely to be decided next week at the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting April 19-21 in Denver. Vocal advocates on both sides present cogent arguments; the USDA received 2,000+ comments during its comment period, with more nays than yays.

Read More
Spring Ahead, Nutritionally with Organic Strawberries

Spring Ahead, Nutritionally with Organic Strawberries


By Ashley Koff, RD

What’s red and sweet, and oh so fun to eat? Yeah, who doesn’t love strawberries?! This time of year, we love that these berries are back in season. But how to get people to focus on the need to choose organic strawberries more often. That’s where I come in.

Read More
In Their Words: The Pura

In Their Words: The Pura "Soil" Sisters


Audra, Alli and Adri Pura are a terrific trio of talent, each taking the organic produce community by storm in their own way. The girls' father, Stan Pura, is widely recognized as one of the country's most progressive and respected organic growers, spearheading Earthbound Farm organic vegetable program.

OPN’s Tonya Antle, caught up with the busy threesome to talk about their passion; and their dedication to improving the organic landscape for the better, while paying homage to the past.

Read More
Millennials Are Helping Organic Sales Soar

Millennials Are Helping Organic Sales Soar


While millennials are regarded as best targets for organic produce sales, a pair of recently released studies show how this generation of 83 million consumers are using their wallets to influence the increased demand for fresh organic food.

Read More
Organic Week in Brief

Organic Week in Brief


  1. Jana Partners Acquires 9 Percent of Whole Foods
  2. Comment Deadline to USDA on GRO Organic Proposed Assessment Ends Next Week
  3. Help for Handlers from USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Video
  4. America’s First Certified Organic Drive Through
  5. More than 50 Bipartisan Members of Congress Sign Letter to Support Organic Ag Funding
Read More
Wholesum Family Farms
Awe Sum Organics
AMF Farms / Bay Baby Produce
Organic Produce Network (OPN)
Organic Grower Summit