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 30,424 acres in Washington state, amounting to over 90 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 webpage 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. National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Meeting Information
The NOSB meets publicly twice a year to consider new topics and make recommendations to USDA on a wide range of issues involving the production, handling, and processing of organic products. The NOSB accepts public input in the form of written and oral comments.
The NHC encourages organic industry members to submit comments on materials under review to voice the challenges faced by our organic farmers and stakeholders. Comments can be as simple as a few sentences expressing why these materials are important to Pacific Northwest organic tree fruit production.
NOSB Annual Fall Meeting
The NOSB plans to hold its fall meetings in person on October 25-27, 2022, in Sacramento, California, with a virtual option for those unable to travel. Public comment virtual webinars are the week prior on October 18 and 20.
Submit feedback on NOSB Subcommittee proposals via Regulations.gov (Docket # AMS-NOP-22-0042). The deadline to submit written comments is 8:59 p.m. PT, Thursday, September 29, 2022.
Oral comment registration closes at 8:59 p.m. PT, Thursday, September 29, 2022, or once capacity is reached. Registration typically fills up fast, so early registration is encouraged. Use the NOSB meetings webpage to sign up for oral commenting. Commenters will be scheduled in the order in which they registered.
NOSB Fall 2022 Meeting Dates:
- Public Comment Webinar Day 1: Tuesday, October 18 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. PT
- Public Comment Webinar Day 2: Thursday, October 20 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. PT
- NOSB Public Meeting Day 1: Tuesday, October 25 from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PT
- NOSB Public Meeting Day 2: Wednesday, October 26 from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PT
- NOSB Public Meeting Day 3: Thursday, October 27 from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. PT
Additional information on the fall meeting can be found on the NOSB meetings webpage.
NOSB Annual Spring Meeting
The NOSB met virtually on April 26-28, 2022, to discuss substances petitioned for addition to or deletion from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List), substances due to sunset from the National List in 2024, and recommendations on organic policies. Public comment webinars took place on April 19 and 21. During the meetings, board members reviewed public comments, discussed documents and subcommittee reports, and voted on recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture.
The NHC submitted oral and written comments, which focused on substances under sunset review, such as copper sulfate, fixed coppers, boric acid, soluble boron, micronutrients, and sticky traps, as well as packing line sanitizers and the NOSB Technical Support Initiative. You can read the NHC’s written comments here.
Additional information on the NOSB and its agendas, meetings, and work plans can be found at AMS.USDA.gov.
B. NHC Past Comments to NOSB
|NHC Past Comments:|
|Spring 2021||Fall 2021|
|Spring 2020||Fall 2020|
|Spring 2019||Fall 2019|
|Spring 2018||Fall 2018|
|Spring 2017||Fall 2017|
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, contact Dan Langager, technical communications manager, at 509-453-3193.