Search form

Main Menu New

Home > Advocacy > Organic Standards > National Organic Standards Board

National Organic Standards Board

The Organic Food Production Act (OFPA) mandated the formation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to advise the Secretary of Agriculture in setting the standards for the National Organic Program. NOSB based its recommendations on industry consensus. The board asked for and received an unprecedented amount of public input from farmers, businesses, and consumers during every step of its decision-making process. NOSB consists of four farmers, two handlers/processors, one retailer, one scientist, three consumer/public-interest advocates, three environmentalists, and a certifying agent. USDA appoints NOSB members.
The NOSB advises USDA on which inputs should be allowed or prohibited in organic farming and processing, based on criteria under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). In general, synthetic substances are prohibited unless specifically allowed (e.g. vaccines) and non-synthetic inputs are allowed unless specifically prohibited (e.g. arsenic). The NOSB must also review each substance on the National List (list of allowed and prohibited farm and handling inputs) every five years to confirm that it continues to meet all required criteria set forth in the OFPA; this is referred to as the “Sunset Review”.
The NOSB meets twice per year in a public forum to discuss the issues and vote on their final recommendations. The NOSB values transparency and public input, inviting both advance written and in-person oral public comments to gain additional perspectives on their recommendations. All meetings are free and open to the public.
OTA members interested in serving on NOSB may contact Gwendolyn Wyard for guidance on the nomination process.

Resources for NOSB Meetings

As a service to its members, OTA attends National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meetings, which are held two to three times per year. The NOSB Report, a members only publication, summarizes the meeting and provides an overview of the agenda topics, public commentary, and key decisions made by the Board. Additionally, the report alerts members to issues slated for discussion and debate at the next NOSB meeting. 
Items included in this report represent recommendations the NOSB developed and reviewed at its meetings. If accepted by the Board, recommendations pass on to the National Organic Program, which determines the final form of the NOSB recommendations (which may vary significantly from the original recommendations). OTA members are alerted to steps in rule-making through OTA's News Flash or other member communications.


Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs  
(503) 798-3294
Johanna Mirenda
Farm Policy Director
(202) 812-7704