National Organic Program Update from Eco-Farm Conference

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The National Organic Program Update at the Eco-Farm Conference in Pacific Grove on January 22nd, provided a wealth of information for organic and transitioning farmers. The session featured Amy Lamendella, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) in California, Miles McEvoy National Organic Program (NOP) in Washington, D.C., and Jean Richardson, National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), Vermont.

McEvoy reviewed the NOP’s Strategic Plan 2015-2018, which is focused on protecting organic integrity, ensuring market access on local, regional and international levels, and providing clear standards for organic certification. The NOP is currently working on ensuring the accuracy of the Organic Integrity Database. This ongoing effort aims to protect against fraud and currently lists over 31,000 operations, 21,000 in the United States.

Richardson is the Chair of the NOSB, an all volunteer board with direct input to organic standards. In 2015, as part of NOSB’s Sunset Review Process, the board reviewed 198 materials; eleven of which were recommended for removal in 2017. The NOSB must review every substance on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances every five years to confirm that it continues to meet all required criteria.

Lamendella is Director of Farm Programs Certification at CCOF and a member of the Hydroponic/Aquaponic Task force. Her presentation included an update on hydroponic and aquaponic farming regulations. A technical report defining the spectrum of systems and production practices is expected in summer 2016.

Resources from the NOP include:

NOP Handbook

The NRCS Organic Farming Handbook was developed to support NRCS conservation planners and other agricultural professionals as they work with organic producers. The handbook describes organic systems and identifies key resources to guide conservation planning and implementation on organic farms. Producers and other audiences may also find the handbook useful, particularly the resources listed in various sections.

A variety of helpful guides, videos and other tools are available here.

View the NOP Strategic Plan 2015-2108 here.

New guides and resources that help organizations reach out to and educate potential organic farmers are available here.