Northwest Horticultural Council
The Pacific Northwest is the national leader in the production of organic apples, pears, and cherries. Over 17 million boxes of organic apples are now harvested from more than 32,537 acres in Washington state, amounting to over 93 percent of the fresh organic apple crop in the United States. There is also a significant volume of organic pears and cherries grown in our region, with more than 7,500 acres planted across the Pacific Northwest. Organic tree fruit production in the Pacific Northwest is increasing, with additional acreage transitioning to organic each year.
In many ways, the Pacific Northwest is the epicenter for organic pome fruit and cherry production in the United States. The total value of the organic tree fruit crop for the region topped $625 million in 2019, of which organic apples alone accounted for approximately $544 million. In fact, tree fruit accounted for 50% of farm gate sales for all Washington state organics that year.
Any operation, or portion of operation, that produces or handles crops, livestock, livestock products, or other agricultural products that are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))” must be certified organic by a USDA-accredited certifying agent.
The National Organic Program (NOP) develops the rules & regulations for the production, handling, labeling, and enforcement of all USDA organic products. This process, referred to as rulemaking, involves input from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) (a Federal Advisory Committee made up of fifteen members of the public) and the public. The NOP also maintains a Handbook that includes guidance, instructions, policy memos, and other information on the organic standards.
Spanish translations of various organic regulations and other information may be found here.
For those interested in learning about the National Organic Program, including the public comment process, inspections, enforcement, and audits, visit the NOP Organic Training web page and create an account at the Organic Integrity Learning Center. Registration for the National Organic Program Microlearning course is free and each course can be covered in 10 to 15 minutes. Instructions may be accessed here.
A. NOSB meeting information
The NOSB meets publicly twice a year to consider new topics and make recommendations on a wide range of issues involving the production, handling, and processing of organic products. The NOSB encourages public input in the form of written and oral comments.
The NOSB will meet in-person October 19-21, 2021, from 8:30 a.m. to approximately 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) each day and may also virtually broadcast the meeting. The in-person meeting will take place in Sacramento, California. Detailed information regarding the NOSB Meeting may be found here.
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The USDA organic regulations allow most natural substances in organic farming while prohibiting most synthetic substances. The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances—part of these regulations— lists the exceptions to this basic rule: Synthetic substances are prohibited unless specifically allowed. Natural substances are allowed unless specifically prohibited.
II. Pacific Northwest State Departments of Agriculture
The WSDA is accredited as a certification agency by USDA. As a certification agent of the National Organic Program, the WSDA Organic Program’s role is to inspect and certify organic operations; verifying that they are meeting all of the USDA organic standards requirements.
The ODA is a USDA-accredited certifying agent for organic crop production and organic handling/processing.
The ISDA is an accredited certifying agent of the USDA’s National Organic Program. ISDA has been serving the state’s organic community since 1990 when the Idaho legislatures passed the Organic Food Products Law (Title 22, Chapter 11, Idaho Code). In 2002, ISDA became one of the nation’s first accredited certifying agencies. They certify over 230 operations.
|Recent Trends in Certified Organic Tree Fruit in Washington State:|
For more information on international, federal, state, and private organics information, please click here.
The Northwest Horticultural Council represents the deciduous tree fruit industry of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington on national and international policy issues affecting growers, packers, and shippers. For further information, please contact David Epstein, vice president for scientific affairs, Northwest Horticultural Council at 509-453-3193.