The following is a recent note sent to USDA leadership regarding their
proposal to publish in the Federal Register without public comment, the
procedures, general policy and interpretation regarding the content of the
National List and its amendment. As you can glean from the note, this
appears to be inappropriate and should be delayed until a Final Organic Rule
is in place. Supporting delay and USDA support for re-implementation of the
NOSB Draft/Final Recommendation Procedures, as noted, would go a long
distance to allowing all sectors of the organic community to be truly
involved in regulatory development that bears on organic farmers, handlers,
certifiers and continues the trust we have generated with our customers.
Thomas Walsh, USDA Office of General Counsel
Mike Dunn, Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs
Kathleen Merrigan, Administrator Agricultural Marketing Service
Keith Jones, Staff Director National Organic Program
At the most recent National Organic Standards Board Meeting a draft document
was circulated "USDA to accept petitions for Amendment of the National List
of Allowed and Prohibited Substances under the National Organic Program.
USDA/NOP staff indicated that after USDA considered revisions suggested at
the meeting and pending OGC review such a document would be published in the
Federal Register, not for public comment, but as a statement of a rule of
procedure and a policy and interpretation of the Organic Foods Production Act
Although a petition process for amending the National List is essential and
needed once the "initial" National List is established, because of the
following reasons we suggest a delay in publishing such a document in the
Federal Register at this time.
As of this date, we are in the middle of the public comment period on the
procedures, policies and USDA interpretations of the Organic Foods Production
Act. The organic community and public is presently providing the Secretary
comments on the following issues which have a direct bearing on the
Department's development of the National List Amendment Petition Procedures:
--the categories and classes of substances that are authorized by OFPA to be
on the National List;
--the application of Section 2118(b) "the list established under subsection
(a) shall contain an itemization, by specific use or application…";
--how the NOSB and Secretary should use the evaluation criteria in Section
2119(m) to determine and rate acceptability or rejection of substances
petitioned for inclusion on the National List;
--the definition and application of Section 2118(C)(A)(ii), " is necessary to
the production or handling of the agricultural product because of
unavailability of wholly natural substitute products"; and
--the meaning and application of Section 2118(C)(A)(iii), " is consistent
with organic farming and handling."
The draft Federal Register National List Amendment Petition addresses these
issues, while the Department is presently seeking public comment on these
A further concern is as the USDA/NOP develops policy and procedures using the
NOSB communication and feedback that the larger organic community who do not
attend NOSB meetings have an opportunity to read and offer comments on Draft
Recommendations before they become Final Recommendations to the Secretary.
In 1993, the National Organic Standards Board perfected and passed a
Draft/Final Recommendation Procedures for its committees and the Board to
follow. The Procedures directed each NOSB committee to perfect each Draft
Recommendation, publish and provide a minimum 30 day comment period from
interested citizens. Draft comments can be sought through the mailing list
of interested recipients maintained by USDA/NOP and the USDA/NOP website can
post all Draft Recommendations, seeking email responses. After evaluating
comments received, each committee was directed to perfect a Final
Recommendation for the Secretary which was considered by the NOSB at a
subsequent meeting. These NOSB Procedures are an assurance to the Secretary
that the entire organic community is timely aware of the issues that are
being discussed and the Secretary is receiving Final Recommendations for
which a degree of consensus within the organic community has been developed.
For the NOSB itself, these Procedures provide legitimacy, public feedback and
a period of introspection in perfecting Final Recommendations to the
We feel that all NOSB Draft/Final Recommendations need to be handled
consistent with these Procedures. The draft Federal Register notice on
National List Amendment Petition should be handled likewise.
By using the NOSB Draft/Final Recommendation Procedures, the following kind
of practical improvement in the National List Amendment Petition would come
We identify that the draft Federal Register notice on the National List
Amendment Petition in setting forth "What information has to be included in
the petition" creates an undue burden on certified organic farmers. If we
were petitioning the NOSB for consideration of say Captan as an active
synthetic substance for seed treatment on seeds we plant, the information
requested in the draft is beyond our time and capacity to provide. Does that
mean our petition would be disqualified without consideration? Could the
requirements for petitioning be adapted to not be burdensome to an applicant
and yet seek the most an applicant can offer in technical information?
We would appreciate the Department considering delaying Federal Register
notice of the National List Amendment Petition Procedures and support for
full implementation of the NOSB Draft/Final Recommendation Procedures.
And now back to planting and cultivation of vegetables.
Certified organic farmer
A communication from the organic4um:
Facilitated by Eric Kindberg, certified organic farmer
NEW, UPDATED WEBSITE: http://members.aol.com/organic4um/info
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Eric Kindberg, Editor,
Ripplebrook Organic Growers, Inc.
Certified organic farm, Fairfield, Iowa
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