Lynn Coody is recognized as a founder of Oregon Tilth, OMRI, and Oregon Organic Coalition. Twenty years ago, Lynn Coody provided technical expertise in drafting OFPA.
Today, she works as the Senior Policy Analyst for the Organic Produce Wholesalers Coalition (OPWC), helping the organization navigate the organic policy world.
Lynn attended the Spring NOSB meeting in Seattle and sat down with OPN to discuss the outcomes and how NOSB decisions affect organic fresh produce growers.
OPN Connect: What was the overall tone of the meeting last week? What were the high and low-lights?
LC: “Many of the highlights came from Jenny Tucker’s report on the NOP’s work. NOP is taking multiple actions to find and deter fraud such as:
- Yield analysis: Comparing a farm’s yield with regional yields;
- Supply chain research such as trace-back audits through an entire supply chain;
- Investigating fumigation protocols to protect organic products from fumigation and to ensure removal of fumigated product from the organic supply chain;
- Conducting investigations of the two certifiers that oversee multiple operations found to have abnormally high yields.
NOP also confirmed that they are moving forward with a multifaceted proposed rule for strengthening organic enforcement, which is planned for publication in Fall 2019.
Jennifer Tucker and PAul Lewis at NOSB's spring meeting
OPN Connect: What decisions were made at this meeting that affect fresh produce growers?
LC: There were 5 materials that were petitioned to be added to the National List of Approved Substances and they all failed. Although OPWC agreed with the great majority of the Subcommittees’ recommendations, Our comments lent support to a few of these materials.
We thought allyl isothiocyanate showed some promise for addressing phytosanitary regulations, which currently constrain development of organic nursery stock because it cannot be shipped unless proven to be free of disease and nematodes. As a result there are few options for organic sources of planting stock for produce crops like berries, onions, garlic and tree fruit.
We also carefully considered silver dihydrogen citrate as a sanitizer because it has a different mode of action than all other sanitizers allowed in organics. For this reason, we thought it could provide benefits for rotation of sanitizers to prevent microbial resistance.
Decisions like these are simply not crystal clear --that’s why it important for the NOSB to hear different viewpoints. OPWC’s goal is to bring forward the needs of the produce sector, which sometimes means our views differ from other stakeholders and NOSB subcommittees.”
Lynn Coody and Melody Meyer
OPN Connect: What’s on the agenda for the fall meeting that could impact the produce sector?
LC: “It’s important for the produce sector to pay attention to the next document on sanitizers, which will come up on the Fall agenda.
This Spring, NOSB presented a discussion document called Assessing Cleaning and Sanitation Materials, which proposed a system for categorizing and reviewing these food safety materials. Such products are used in many aspects of growing fruits & veg, post-harvest handling, and processing and they are critical to ensure the safety of produce, which is often consumed without cooking. Since fresh produce does have special food safety needs, it’s always helpful to hear more voices from the produce sector!
There are several other important things to be aware of:
Marine materials - NOSB is looking carefully at the sustainability of the harvest practices of seaweeds used in farm inputs like kelp meal and liquid kelp. At this last meeting, a Discussion Document proposed that these marine materials be certified organic, leading to concerns expressed by growers and some certifiers that availability of inputs could be limited and more costly.
Paper plant pots and other paper production aids will be under review in the fall. Many produce growers currently use paper plant pots because some certifiers have allowed them for about a decade. However, other certifiers did not approve them, because the paper has some synthetic fibers and glues in it that may not deemed complaint.
2021 Sunset Materials OPWC has identified 14 of the sunset materials under consideration by the Crops and Handling Subcommittees that impact the produce sector. The NOSB will vote in the fall to continue to allow or to prohibit each of these. It’s important for growers and others in the produce sector to speak up if they use and need these items, by writing comments, participating in public comment webinars, or coming to the meeting.
OPN Connect: Why is it important to be involved in the NOSB process?
NOSB’s work impacts the daily operations of all organic businesses. Compared to the number of farms and businesses active in the produce sector, NOSB hears relatively few comments from them.