Northwest Horticultural Council
The Pacific Northwest is the national leader in the production of organic apples, pears, and cherries. Over 18 million boxes of organic apples are now harvested from more than 28,500 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 6,200 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 $620 million in 2017, of which organic apples alone accounted for approximately $540 million. In fact, tree fruit accounted for 60% 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.
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 October 20 – October 30, 2020, virtually, 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 2022, and recommendations on organic policies.
NOSB Fall Meeting 2020 dates:
Tuesday, October 20: Public Comment Webinar Day 1: 12:00 – 5:00 pm Eastern
Thursday, October 22: Public Comment Webinar Day 2: 12:00 – 5:00 pm Eastern
Wednesday, October 28: NOSB Public Meeting Day 1: 12:00 – 5:00 pm Eastern
Thursday, October 29: NOSB Public Meeting Day 2: 12:00 – 5:00 pm Eastern
Friday, October 30: NOSB Public Meeting Day 3: 12:00 – 5:00 pm Eastern
B. Fall 2020 Meeting Materials: Proposals and Discussion Documents
At the NOSB meeting in October, the Board will consider de-listing several critically important tools used by organic tree fruit producers, including the inert ingredients in pheromone mating disruption dispensers. The NHC will be submitting written and oral comments to the NOSB opposing the de-listings, but it is important for growers to also weigh in with the NOSB by providing written and/or oral comments prior to the October 1, 2020 deadline. The NHC has prepared a template letter that growers may use to prepare their written comments. The letter may be found here.
To be considered, letters must be submitted to the USDA-AMS at the following website: https://beta.regulations.gov/commenton/AMS-NOP-20-0041-0001.
If you need assistance with the submission process contact Dave Epstein (firstname.lastname@example.org ) prior to October 1.
If growers would like to provide oral comments to the NOSB during the fall meeting (Oct 20, 22), register at the following website: https://www.ams.usda.gov/event/national-organic-standards-board-nosb-meeting-cedar-rapids-iowa. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and fill in the form.
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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.
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.