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NOSB Fall 2021 Meeting

The virtual Fall 2021 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Meeting took place on October 19-21. The Organic Trade Association's complete NOSB Meeting Report is now available.

The primary purpose of NOSB meetings is to provide an opportunity for stakeholders to give feedback on proposed NOSB recommendations and discussion items. The meetings also allow NOSB to receive updates from USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) on issues pertaining to organic agriculture.

Prepare for the Meeting
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Read our final NOSB Report

Check out the Organic Trade Association’s NOSB Fall 2021 Meeting Report for more information on these issues and all other agenda items addressed at the meeting.

The meeting produced a number of critical outcomes for the organic sector.

Key outcomes include:

  • Ammonia Extract, Sodium Nitrate & Other Highly Soluble Nitrogen Sources: NOSB voted 13-1 to prohibit "stripped ammonia" and "concentrated" ammonia, which addresses the forms of ammonia extract that are the target of the petition. Despite the complexity and controversial nature of this material, a decisive majority of the NOSB members agreed that ammonia extracts do not meet the OFPA criteria for environmental impacts, soil health, and compatibility with a system of sustainable agriculture. Given the support from certifiers and material reviewers and the commonly accepted chemistry definitions of stripping, NOSB feels confident that the motions on stripped and concentrated ammonia won’t have unintended consequences on other materials. NOSB also voted unanimously to reinstate a restriction on the use of sodium nitrate, another form of highly soluble nitrogen. Discussions about the role of highly soluble nutrients in organic agriculture will likely continue to be a focus point of the Crops Subcommittee. 
  • All Sunset Materials Renewed & No New Materials Allowed: Of the 30 materials on the National List undergoing sunset review this year, all of them were voted to be renewed for another 5-year cycle. Nearly all of the sunset review votes were unanimous in support of renewal, indicating broad consensus that the materials currently on the National List continue to meet the criteria under OFPA for allowance in organic production and processing. Copper sulfate (rice production), EPA List 3 inerts (passive pheromone dispensers in crop production), and Carrageenan (gelling agent in food processing) were the only sunset materials that received any votes to remove, although not enough to pass a decisive motion. NOSB also considered and rejected three petitions for adding new synthetic materials for allowance (chitosan, kasugamycin, and hydronium), one petition for a currently prohibited natural (manure biochar), and one petition to allow a new non-organic ingredient in food processing (Zein).   
  • Expanding NOSB Work Agenda: Thanks to efforts spearheaded by Chair Steve Ela, NOSB will now be able to add items to its own work agenda that go beyond discussion of National List materials. Some of the bigger picture areas the Board expressed interest in include: continuous improvement, climate change, organic seed requirements, forever chemicals in packaging, integrity and enforcement, container and greenhouse standards, and excluded methods. 

READ OUR FINAL MEETING REPORT

Download our NOSB Meeting Quick Resource Guide

Our Fall 2021 Meeting Resource Guide is now available! In service to our members, we have prepared this brief guide to highlight key resources, the meeting schedule, and topics currently under NOSB consideration. 

Fall 2021 Meeting Resource Guide 

Read our Final Comments
Meeting Agenda and Topics

The NOSB Fall 2021 Meeting Agenda and Meeting Packet are available and the comment period is open. NOSB is presenting 13 proposals for vote, 30 sunset materials for vote, and 3 discussion documents. As a service to our members, we have condensed the 207-page meeting packet in to a 29-page comprehensive summary. We also have created a 2-Page Quick Glance list of the topics and subcommittee votes.

Crop Production Topics

  • 2023 Sunset Review – see below for list of substances and survey links
  • Ammonia extract – petition to prohibit non-synthetic ammonia extract fertilizers
  • Biodegradable mulch – proposal to allow products that are 80% biobased
  • Chitosan – petitions for use as plant disease control
  • Biochar – petition for use of cow-manure derived biochar as a soil amendment
  • Kasugamycin – petition to allow for control of fire blight disease
  • Hydronium – petition for use as pH adjuster in the production of dehydrated manure fertilizers
  • Lithothamnion – proposal to classify as non-agricultural and not eligible for wild crop certification
  • Carbon Dioxide – petition for use as an irrigation water pH adjuster
  • Sodium Nitrate – proposal to reinstate 20% restriction

Livestock Production Topics

  • 2023 Sunset Review – see below for list of substances and survey links

Processing and Handling Topics

  • Zein – petition for use as a processing aid and glaze in food handling
  • Fish oil – proposal to restrict sources of fish oil to minimize environmental harm
  • 2023 Sunset Review – see below for list of substances and survey links

General Topics:

  • NOSB 2021 Research Priorities for the organic food and agriculture sector
  • Climate Change letter to USDA about organic as climate solution
  • Excluded Methods (DISCUSSION ONLY) 
  • Public Comment Process (DISCUSSION ONLY) 
  • Oversight improvements to deter fraud (DISCUSSION ONLY)
2023 Sunset Review: List of Substances & Survey Links

This year, NOSB will discuss and vote on whether to continue the allowance of the substances listed below that are scheduled for re-review prior to their sunset (expiration) date in 2023 from the National List. These National List inputs may not be renewed if new information indicates these substances are harmful to human health or the environment, are not necessary because natural or organic alternatives are available, and/or incompatible with organic production. (Learn more about the Sunset Review Process)

Do you use any of the substances listed below? It’s critical that organic stakeholders weigh in by the September 30th comment deadline for the Fall 2021 NOSB Meeting and explain whether these inputs are still necessary for organic production. The feedback will inform the proposal and vote made at the fall meeting (October 2021).

Inform our comments by completing our Sunset Surveys! To help facilitate the comment process, OTA has created a survey system for collecting feedback from certified organic farms and processors. Below are links to electronic surveys that can be used to submit feedback on each individual material currently under NOSB review. Each survey is CONFIDENTIAL and takes about five minutes to complete. The information collected will be passed along to NOSB via OTA’s comments.

Why should you care? The inputs listed below are fertilizers, pest control products, livestock treatments, processing aids, and ingredients currently allowed for use under certain restrictions by certified organic operations. In short, they are production inputs that help to grow and process organic products. It’s critical that NOSB hear from certified farmers and handlers during this open comment period on whether these inputs are essential and/or necessary for organic production and should remain on the National List, or whether there are other effective natural or organic alternatives available.

LINKS TO SUNSET SURVEYS

Inputs Used in Crop Production:

Inputs Used in Livestock Production: 

Inputs Used in Processing and Handling: 

Public Comments

Members of the public may submit written comments and/or provide oral comments. The deadline to submit written comments and/or sign up for oral comment at either the webinar or in-person meeting is 11:59 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021.

Written comments may be submitted via Regulations.gov. (Docket # AMS-NOP-21-0038) by 11:59 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021.

Members of the public may also sign up for a 3-minute oral comment slot. Oral comments may be provided by webinar only during one of two webinar sessions on October 13 & 14 between Noon – 5:00 pm Eastern. Advanced registration is required by 11:59 p.m. ET, September 30, 2021. Sign up here: https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/national-organic-standards-board-nosb-meeting-sacramento-ca.

Meeting Attendance

ATTN: USDA has modified the NOSB Fall 2021 Meeting to be held ONLINE ONLY, instead of in-person in Sacramento, CA as previously planned. For those who had planned to attend in-person, be sure to check and cancel any hotel or travel reservations that you have made.

NOSB public comment webinars and meeting days are free and open to the public. All events will take place virtually via Zoom. Registration is not required unless you wish to provide public comment. 

To observe the public comment webinars on October 13 & 14 (from Noon – 5pm Eastern each day), use this link (same link each day): 

  • Meeting ID: 160 703 3566

If you need to join by phone:

  • +1 669 254 5252 US (San Jose)
  • +1 551 285 1373 US
  • +1 646 828 7666 US (New York)

To observe the three-day NOSB Meeting on October 19 – 21 (from 8:30am – 6:00pm Eastern each day) use this this link (same link each day):

  • Meeting ID: 161 369 6715

If you need to join by phone:

  • +1 669 254 5252 US (San Jose)
  • +1 551 285 1373 US
  • +1 646 828 7666 US (New York)
Mission and Structure of NOSB

The National Organic Standards Board was created through the Organic Foods Production Act, a sub-section of the 1990 Farm Bill. The Board is charged with the task of assisting the Secretary of Agriculture on which substances should be allowed or prohibited in organic farming and processing. The Board also advises the Secretary on other aspects of the organic regulations. This 15-person citizen advisory board brings together volunteers from around the United States. It is made up of four farmers/growers, two handlers/processors, one retailer, one scientist, three consumer/public interest advocates, three environmentalists, and one USDA accredited certifying agent. 

Contact our Regulatory Staff
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Gwendolyn Wyard
Vice President of Regulatory and Technical Affairs
(503) 798-3294 

Johanna Mirenda
Farm Policy Director
(202) 812-7704