Take Action for Organic Integrity!

Coronavirus is going to continue to dominate Washington, D.C., but we also need to make sure the rules and enforcement needed to ensure integrity of the organic label aren’t forgotten.

The USDA is past its deadline for a new proposed rule to prevent fraud in organic supply chains (the Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule required by the 2018 Farm Bill) and the deadline for finishing up the Origin of Livestock rule (about transitioning livestock into organic) is coming up fast.

Help us remind Congress they must make sure USDA meets the Congressional deadlines to protect organic integrity.

Right now, the best way to reach your members of Congress is email, since many congressional offices are working remotely. You can find contact information for your Representative at www.house.gov (use the “Find Your Representative” box at the top right and then go to your member’s website and look for a Contact tab) and your two Senators at www.senate.gov (go to the “Senators” tab and then “Contact” to find the Senators from your state.)

Ask your members of Congress to make sure USDA finishes these two rules ASAP:

  • The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule is critical for preventing fraud in the organic supply chain and ensuring that U.S. organic farms can compete on a level playing field. During the disruption caused by the pandemic, it is more important than ever to show that the U.S. is taking organic enforcement seriously. The 2018 Farm Bill required USDA to complete the rulemaking by December 19, 2019, but the proposed rule is still under review by the Office of Management and Budget.  Can you help us move this forward in the rulemaking process?
  • The final rule on Origin of Livestock (OOL) is desperately needed to close loopholes in the organic standards related to the transitioning of conventional dairy cows into organic dairy operations. Through the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process, Congress mandated that USDA complete the OOL final rule by June 17, 2020.  This deadline is fast approaching, and we need Congress to make sure that USDA finishes this rule as soon as possible.

Report back!

Email us to let us know what you find out!  Email us at: patty (at) organicfarmersassociation.org


May Policy Update: Coronavirus, NOSB & Action on Organic Integrity Rulemaking

By, Patty Lovera, Policy Director

The big news in DC, just like everywhere, continues to be the coronavirus pandemic, the impact on the food supply chain and how the government should respond. But there are other things happening in the world of organic policy, including the National Organic Standards Board spring meeting and continuing to push the USDA National Organic Program to finish rules we need to maintain the integrity of the organic label.

Pandemic Response

Congress passed the CARES Act in late March, which provides money that farms can access from two parts of the federal government, the USDA and the Small Business Administration. In late April, Congress passed another bill to provide more funding to the Small Business Administration programs because the original funding was spent very quickly due to high demand. You can see more details about the SBA programs here, but the most important update since last month is that farms can now apply to both the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.

The USDA is still developing the rules for one of its programs, direct payments to producers for losses caused by the pandemic, and we don’t yet have any specific details for how farms can apply. Those rules are expected to be released very soon. A basic description of the payment program can be found here.

The USDA has released the details for its new program to buy farm commodities for distribution to food banks. The deadline for the first round of contracts was May 8th, but you can check out the USDA’s website for the deadline for the next round of contracts.

At some point, Congress will consider other spending bills in response to the pandemic. It still isn’t clear if the next package will be more specific on how departments like the USDA spend money or will just be a repeat of the broad strokes provided in the CARES Act. OFA has been sharing specific requests for organic funding with members of Congress to make the case for programs that will work better for organic farms.

National Organic Standards Board Meeting

At the end of April, the USDA’s organic advisory committee, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), held its spring meeting online. The previous week, more than 20 organic farmers and representatives from farm organizations gave public comments to the board through a webinar.  You can read testimony for OFA’s Director and Policy Director on our website.

You can keep an eye on the USDA’s website for the NOSB to see the transcript and records from the meeting when they are posted.

One of the hot topics at the meeting was the ongoing discussion about paper pots. The board considered a discussion document about whether paper pots can be used by organic farms. They did not vote on the issue, and the Crops subcommittee will continue working on their recommendation about which types of paper pots (based on paper source and adhesives) will be allowed. The director of the National Organic Program made a point to say during the meeting that the NOP has instructed organic certifiers that paper pots will continue to be allowed while the board continues is work on this issue.

Take Action for Organic Integrity!

Even though the coronavirus is going to continue to dominate lawmaker’s attention for a while, we also need to make sure that the rules and enforcement we need to ensure the integrity of the organic label aren’t forgotten. The USDA is past its deadline for a new proposed rule to prevent fraud in organic supply chains (the “Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule required by the 2018 Farm Bill) and the deadline for finishing up the Origin of Livestock rule (about transitioning livestock into organic) is coming up fast.

Click here to TAKE ACTION!

 


OFA & NOC ask USDA for more support for organic farmers during COVID-19

May 7, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi                                     The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Speaker                                                                     Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives                                  U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515                                             Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                              The Honorable Charles E. Schumer
Majority Leader                                                         Minority Leader
United States Senate                                                 United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510                                              Washington, DC 20510

Dear House and Senate Leaders:

As you begin crafting the next coronavirus pandemic response package, we are writing with recommendations about actions needed to address the impact on the organic food and agriculture sector. We offer our recommendations with full understanding that all sectors of agriculture are now in crisis and that we must all work together to address these challenges.

We are deeply concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on organic farmers, farmworkers, businesses, retailers, certifiers, organic inspectors, and consumers. We are mindful of the need to protect the health and safety of all who are involved in organic agriculture, certification, and compliance. We also seek to advocate for responsible actions that will protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal during this difficult time.

Because of the annual organic certification process and the need to protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal during this time of extreme market disruption, some of our concerns and recommendations may be unique from those raised by other sectors of agriculture.

Many of our recommendations were also suggested to Secretary Perdue as he developed his pandemic response package to implement the CARES Act but were not adequately addressed by that action.

Critical Rulemaking to Protect Organic Integrity Should Not Be Delayed by Pandemic

Two rulemakings that are critical to the economic health of the organic sector are in the final stages of clearance. Congress should reiterate the importance of publishing these two rules without delay:

  • The rulemaking to improve organic enforcement, both domestically and internationally, (aka the “strengthening organic enforcement” rule) is critical for the economic viability of the U.S. organic sector. This rule is more important now than ever to demonstrate that the U.S. is taking organic enforcement very seriously, so that fraudulent importers do not see the pandemic as opportunity to resume or expand fraudulent shipments. The 2018 Farm Bill required USDA to complete the rulemaking by December 19, 2019, but the proposed rule is still under review by OMB. This rulemaking must move forward.
  • The final rule on Origin of Livestock (OOL), to close loopholes in the organic standards related to the transitioning of conventional dairy cows into organic dairy operations, is another critical regulation for the organic sector. Through the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process, Congress mandated that USDA complete the OOL final rule by June 17, 2020.

Direct Support for Organic Farms, Diversified Farms, and Farms Servicing Local Markets

On April 17th, Secretary Perdue announced a plan to distribute $16 billion in direct payments to farmers, with specific amounts designated for certain commodities and livestock categories, as one of USDA’s actions to implement the CARES Act.

We are concerned that the payment formulas used by USDA to distribute the payments and the rigid delineation of funding for specific commodity and livestock categories will shortchange organic farmers, particularly small-and-medium-scale diversified operations that have been economically impacted by the pandemic. We urge Congress, in the next coronavirus response package, to be more explicit about providing direct assistance to organic and diversified farming operations and to establish oversight procedures to ensure USDA compliance with the requirement. The CARES Act was very specific that one of the priorities for direct payment assistance should be “producers that supply local food systems, including farmers markets, restaurants, and schools.” In spite of that, the USDA action plan to implement the CARES Act did very little to address the needs of that sector of agriculture. Using conventional commodity and livestock product price losses is not a good proxy for the type of losses experienced by organic farmers and farmers serving local markets.

Related to this concern is the fact that price data is not as widely available for organic agricultural products as it is for conventional products, which could make it more challenging for organic farmers to prove their losses relative to baseline prices. In the short term, this points to the need for Congress to provide alternate ways of proving loss for organic farmers. In the long term, this demonstrates the need for Congress to increase annual USDA Agricultural Marketing Service funding for segregated organic price data.

For some farmers serving local and direct-to-consumer markets, sales have actually gone up as a result of the pandemic as consumers seek out local sources of food. However, in many cases, costs have also skyrocketed for these operations because of the additional investments in equipment, technology, sanitation, staffing, and transportation that must be made in order to meet social distancing and infection prevention protocols. Their incomes may be going up, but their margins may actually be declining.

Therefore, we recommend that payments for smaller organic, diversified, and direct-market operations be based on total farm revenue relative to previous years, which allows for local and organic price premiums to be taken into account. This would also be a way to address operations whose sales have gone up, but whose margins have declined.

Lastly, the USDA payment formula provides the majority of assistance for losses from January through April 15th, with a much lower level of assistance for losses from April 16th through the following two quarters. For most farmers, losses did not begin until states started to close schools, farmers markets, and restaurants and issued stay-at-home orders. The timeframe for calculating the losses should be better coordinated with the timeframe of actual losses.

Streamlined and Expanded Organic Certification Cost-Share Assistance

Annual inspection is a requirement for all certified organic operations, and a core component to maintaining the integrity of the organic label. While some aspects of those inspections are taking place remotely during the pandemic, some on-site inspections are still happening using social distancing protocols.

Because of the economic disruption related to the pandemic, many organic farmers and handlers cannot currently afford to pay their certification fees. The federal government already reimburses up to 75 percent of organic certification fees, with a maximum reimbursement of $750 per certification scope per operation. As an emergency measure, we recommend that instead of reimbursing the organic operation for certification fees paid to certification agencies, USDA should reimburse the certification agency directly for those costs. In addition, the 75 percent reimbursement should be increased to a 100 percent reimbursement during the pandemic.

One of the barriers of access to organic meat and poultry is access to slaughter and processing plant space. In addition to the normal regulatory hurdles impacting smaller meat and poultry processing plants, organic meat and poultry processing standards add additional hurdles that make it very costly for a processing plant to process organic products. Since these additional hurdles are costs necessary for organic certification, USDA should provide certification cost share assistance to help defray the cost of organic meat and poultry processing to remove hurdles in the supply chain for organic meat and poultry. In addition to assistance with the specific costs of certification, recordkeeping, and segregation of product necessary to produce certified organic products, these small-scale plants would also benefit from assistance that is needed for all small-scale plants, including USDA staffing levels that ensure adequate inspection coverage for small plants and technical assistance and small plant outreach from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

Assistance to Dairy Farmers

Dairy is one of the leading sectors of organic. Congress should re-open the 2020 sign-up period for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) Program to allow new participants in the program. In addition, reopening the sign-up period would allow existing DMC participants to reconsider their coverage decisions for 2020 given the extraordinary and unforeseen dairy market collapse related to the pandemic.

Procedures for Donating Organic Food to Local Food Banks and Community Organizations

The agricultural product procurement and distribution plan announced by Secretary Perdue on April 17th does not work well for procurement and distribution of organic products to food banks and community organizations. The USDA plan operates primarily through existing wholesaler distribution firms who have been idled by the loss of food service markets related to the stay-at-home orders. While the USDA plan has no explicit prohibition on organic food distribution, the bidding process makes it challenging for food hubs and distributors of organic foods to win a bid.

We recommend that Congress establish a process for organic farmers, handlers or food hubs to be paid to distribute food directly to food banks and qualified community organizations. Either USDA would pay for the food directly or food banks would be given funds to procure local organic foods to fulfill their customers’ needs. Organic farmers are equally as impacted as other farmers by this crisis and market outlets for their products are equally important.

Protection and Reward for Front Line Workers and Businesses

Farms and food-related businesses have been designated as essential by the Department of Homeland Security and by most states. We agree with that designation. However, it is critical that we protect and reward those farmers, workers, and businesses who are providing these essential services during the pandemic.

Emergency grants should be provided to reimburse for expenses related to personal protection equipment (PPE) and pandemic-related facility, infrastructure, technology, and staffing modifications. Grants should be provided to farmers, farmers markets, organic certification agencies, small-and medium-scale grocery stores, including cooperative grocery stores, distributors, and small-and-medium-scale food processing plants.

In addition, federally funded pay bonuses should be provided to front line food system and grocery workers, to compensate them for their essential work under hardship conditions.

Flexibility in USDA Nutrition Program Rules and Spending Needed to Allow Low Income Consumers Greater Access to Nutritious Food During the Pandemic

In addition to refining the procurement process to be inclusive of all types of producers, as described above, we also urge Congress to increase funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is a critical tool for providing a safety net against hunger. We also urge you to make several specific refinements to SNAP and other nutrition programs to make sure that the benefits of these programs are spread equitably across everyone in the food supply chain.

  • Allow Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) payments to be made online directly to farms, CSAs, and cooperative grocery stores.

USDA has granted pilot program status to some States to allow SNAP recipients to make purchases on-line for home delivery of groceries to reduce their exposure to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, in most cases, the only USDA-approved retailers that can process and deliver the purchases are very large retailers, such as Walmart or Amazon.

The SNAP Online Purchasing Pilot should be expanded to all states and additional food marketing outlets, including cooperative grocers, other small-and-medium scale grocery stores, and farms with direct-to-consumer sales capability. USDA should provide technical assistance to help small-and-medium-sized retailers, community supported agriculture (CSA) operations, and farmers set up online capability to accept SNAP.

  • Provide waivers and direction to States to broaden their WIC-approved food lists to allow WIC participants to purchase organic foods.

As the economic downturn deepens as a result of the pandemic, the percent of consumers eligible for low-income food assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC will continue to grow. As low-income consumers struggle to afford access to healthy, nutritious food during these hard times, Congress should increase funding for the WIC program to meet growing demand and to enable states to allow more organic foods on their state WIC-approved food lists.

Farm Labor Accommodations Are Critical to Continuing Production of Organic Food During the Pandemic

With regard to farm workers, Congress should:

  • Establish a program to provide relief workers for sick farmers and farmworkers.
  • Provide farmworkers who are currently employed on a farm with the same payments as any other workers without questions about their status as citizens, and make farmworkers eligible for paid sick leave, SNAP, health coverage, childcare, and workmen's compensation.

Funding for Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

  • Funding for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) programs should be replenished, and procedures to ensure farmers’ access to both programs should be expanded.
  • Congress should clarify that expenses paid with forgivable PPP loans are tax deductible.

We thank you for your efforts to respond quickly to the needs of organic farmers, businesses, retailers, workers and consumers in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sincerely,

Abby Youngblood                                                                  Kate Mendenhall
Executive Director                                                                  Executive Director
National Organic Coalition                                                   Organic Farmers Association

 

 


ELECTION RESULTS ARE IN!

Thank you for voting for your regional representatives to the Governing Council & Policy Committee

Congrats to the newly elected members! Members will serve 2-year terms which will begin at our annual meeting this spring.

2020 GOVERNING COUNCIL

The Governing Council includes 19 members. The council includes 2 certified organic farmers and 1 organic farm organization from each of the six regions. In addition, Organic Farmers Association's fiscal sponsor, Rodale Institute, also has a seat on the council. All Council Members have identical rights and responsibilities, except that only farmer members have the right to vote. The fiscal sponsor, if it has a certified organic farm, also has a vote.

* = Newly elected

 

Farmers: Voting Members

California Farmer Representatives
Judith Redmond
Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA

*Steve Beck
Kings River Produce, Inc., Hanford, CA

Midwest Region Farmer Representatives
Dave Bishop
PrairiErth Farm, Atlanta, IL

*Abby Lundrigan
Turner Farm, Cincinnati, OH

North Central Region Farmer Representatives
Mike Kelly
High Meadow Farm, Johnson Creek, WI

*Harriet Behar
Sweet Springs Farm, Spring Valley, WI

Western Region Farmer Representatives
Nathaniel Powell-Palm
Cold Springs Organics, Bozeman, MT

*Marcia Litsinger
Churchill Butte Organics, Silver Springs, NV

Southern Region Farmer Representatives
*Jennifer Taylor
Lola’s Organic Farm, Glenwood, GA

Loretta Adderson
Adderson’s Fresh Produce, Hephzibah, GA

Northeast Region Farmer Representatives
*David Colson
New Leaf Farm, Durham, ME

Maryrose Livingston
Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Advisory : Non-Voting

California Organization Representative
*Phil LaRocca, Chair
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)

Midwest Region Organization Representative
*Renee Hunt, Program Director
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)

North Central Region Organization Representative
David Perkins, President
Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

Western Region Organization Representative
Becky Weed, Board of Directors
Montana Organic Association (MOA)

Southern Region Organization Representative
*Keith Richards, Program Director
Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG)

Northeast Region Organization Representative
Ed Maltby, Executive Director
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)

Sponsor Seat
Maria Pop
Rodale Institute

 

2020 POLICY COMMITEE

The Policy Committee includes 18 members. From each of the six regions, the Policy Committee includes 2 certified organic farmers and 1 organic farm organization. All Committee Members have identical rights and responsibilities, except that only farmer members have the right to vote.

* = Newly Elected

Farmers: Voting Members

California Region Farmer Representatives
Kenneth Kimes
Greensward/New Natives, LLC, Aptos, CA

*Mark McAfee
Organic Pastures, Fresno, CA

Midwest Region Farmer Representatives
Michael Adsit
Plymouth Orchards & Cider Mill, Plymouth, MI

*Dave Campbell
Lily Lake Organic Farm, Maple Park, IL

Western Region Farmer Representatives
Nate Lewis
Oyster Bay Farm, Olympia, WA

*Pryor Garnett
Garnetts Red Prairie Farm, Sheridan, OR

Southern Region Farmer Representatives
Laura Freeman
Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, KY

*Jennifer Taylor
Lola’s Organic Farm, Glenwood, GA

North Central Region Farmer Representatives
DeEtta Bilek
Tom and DeEtta Bilek Farm, Aldrich, MN

*Harriet Behar
Sweet Springs Farm, Gay Mills, WI

Northeast Region Farmer Representatives
Luke Gianforte
Gianforte Farm, Cazenovia, NY

*Dave Chapman
Long Wind Farm, Easy Thetford, VT

Advisory: Non-Voting

California Region Organization Representative
*David Runsten, Policy Director
Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Davis, CA

Midwest Region Organization Representative
*Molly Gleason, Communications Director
Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Springfield, IL

Western Region Organization Representative
Cara Loriz, Executive Director,
Organic Seed Alliance, Missoula, MT

Southern Region Organization Representative
Michael Sligh, Program Director
Rural Advancement Foundation International, Pittsboro, NC

North Central Region Organization Representative
*Roz Lehman, Executive Director
Iowa Organic Association, Des Moines, IA

Northeast Region Organization Representative
*Maddie Kempner, Membership & Advocacy Coordinator
NOFA-VT, Richmond, VT


Organic Famers Association Presidential Forum with Bernie Sanders

Tune in to Organic Farmers Association hosting a Presidential Forum on the topic of Combating Climate Change with Organic and Regenerative Agriculture. Senator Sanders is fielding questions from Iowa organic farmers.


OFA Comments for the Select Committee on Climate Change

Organic Farmers Association (OFA) is responding to the Select Committee on Climate Crisis’ request seeking additional, detailed input from stakeholders in the agriculture sector on reducing carbon pollution, maximizing carbon storage, and suggestions on agriculture policies to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

OFA_ClimateChangeComments11.22.19


Immigration Reform Update

Immigration reform is moving in the House of Representatives. Catch OFA’s webinar with Dave Runsten, Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF) on immigration reform, the current proposed bill, and OFA’s position on immigration at this link.

The House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee scheduled a full committee vote for Wednesday, November 20 on Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren’s (D-CA) Farm Workforce Modernization Act, HR 4916. In her press release introducing the legislation, the Congresswoman said the proposal makes meaningful reforms to the H-2A agricultural guest worker program and creates a first-of-its-kind, merit-based visa program specifically designed for the nation’s agricultural sector.

Lofgren along with Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) are original sponsors of the bill.

While the legislation has 25 Republican co-sponsors, a party line vote is expected as the bill is passed out of the committee and sent to the floor for debate.

Judiciary Committee leadership is negotiating with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer for floor time the first week of December. Democratic leaders will be watching the November 20 markup to determine their floor strategy and schedule. A contentious markup could delay floor work as the December’s House floor schedule will be packed with other controversial issues.

During the last three weeks of the 2019 Congressional session, Congress will vote on immigration reform, funding the federal government for FY20 and an impeachment vote. The current Continuous Resolution (CR) funding the federal government expires on November 22. Congress is expected to pass a short-term CR until December 20.

Judiciary Committee staff suspects they could get 40 out of the 197 House Republicans to vote for immigration reform for the agriculture industry during floor debate, which would allow the proposal to be sent to the Senate.

The Senate schedule is much more complicated. The end of year work by the House will send both the immigration reform proposal and, as expected, impeachment to the Senate.

The impeachment trial by the Senate will consume almost all the attention. While the Majority and Minority need to come to an agreement on how the process will operate in the Senate, past impeachment precedent had the Senate working six days a week until the trial. That timeline would delay Senate action on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act until March.


USDA responds to our letter concerning the comment of Under Secretary Greg Ibach

Read the USDA's response to our Sign-on letter to Secretary Perdue concerning the comment of Under Secretary Greg Ibach

Read here


OFA-NOSB Oral Comments

October 23, 2019

 

RE: General Comments to the NOSB

 

Thank you, members of the National Organic Standards Board for the opportunity to speak before you today. My name is Kate Mendenhall, I am the director of the Organic Farmers Association and I am also an Iowa organic farmer. OFA is led and controlled by domestic certified organic farmers and only certified organic farmers determine our policies using a grassroots process. We believe organic farmers were instrumental in creating our successful organic market and must be leaders in directing its future.

 

Organic Farmers Association greatly supports the work of the NOSB and finds your role crucial to maintain integrity in the USDA organic label. We also support NOSB recommendations moving forward to rulemaking or guidance in a timely manner.

 

We appreciate the NOSB’s 2018 resolution to move Origin of Livestock standards quickly to a final rule, and the USDA’s recent decision to not issue a second rule. We are concerned that the number of comments coming in might delay the process and we ask that the USDA work to move to an immediate implementation of a Final Rule. We are also hearing from farmers they still see a lack of oversight on pasture rule compliance. We appreciate the increased dairy oversight effort and we need to see more.

 

Last month we sent a letter to the Secretary of Agriculture in response to Undersecretary Ibach’s July statement expressing interest in a dialogue about gene-editing in organic. 78 organic organizations joined OFA to clearly communicate our unified opposition. We thank Dr. Tucker for confirming that gene editing has always been prohibited in organic agriculture. The organic community is NOT interested in a dialogue about gene editing. We do encourage robust dialogue about the numerous critical issues organic farmers are facing—protecting farmers from genetic and pesticide contamination, protecting farmers from import fraud, etc.

 

Organic Farmers Association continues to oppose the certification of hydroponic operations, a position passed by 90% of our certified organic farmer members nationwide and in each of our six geographic regions. We are concerned about the consequences to the integrity of the organic label as a result of the USDA and NOSB moving forward to allow for organic hydroponics without clarity on how it complies with OFPA and standards for this type of production system. At the spring NOSB meeting there was much conversation regarding whether container farms needed to comply with the same three-year transition as soil-based farms. Organic Farmers Association was pleased to receive NOP clarification for certifiers on transition time for container systems after the application of a prohibited substance; however, it left some ambiguity about how greenhouse production fits in. Is a three-year transition needed for a container system inside a greenhouse after application of a prohibited substance? It is important that the organic standards are clear and equitable across growing systems so that certifiers are implementing and enforcing the standards uniformly—if ambiguity is present, the NOP must provide clarity.


Newly-Elected Governing Council and Policy Committee

Results are in for the newly-elected 2019 Governing Council and Policy Committee.  Members will serve 2-year terms, up to 3 consecutive terms (no more than 6 consecutive years). Newly elected members begin their terms at the annual meeting on March 13, 2019.

2019 Governing Council

The Council includes 19 members. From each of the six regions, the council includes 2 certified organic farmers and 1 organic farm organization.  In addition, Organic Farmers Association's fiscal sponsor, Rodale Institute, also has a seat on the council. All Council Members have identical rights and responsibilities, except that only farmer members have the right to vote. The fiscal sponsor, if it has a certified organic farm, also has a vote.
* = Newly elected.

Farmers- Voting

California Farmer Representatives
*Judith Redmond, Full Belly Farm, Guinda, CA
Steve Beck, Kings River Produce, Inc., Hanford, CA
Midwest Region Farmer Representatives
*Dave Bishop, PrairiErth Farm, Atlanta, IL
Joannee DeBruhl, Stone Coop Farm, Brighton, MI
North Central Region Farmer Representatives
*Mike Kelly, High Meadow Farm, Johnson Creek, WI
Harriet Behar, Sweet Springs Farm, Spring Valley, WI
Western Region Farmer Representatives
*Nathaniel Powell-Palm, Cold Springs Organics, Bozeman, MT
Jessica Gigot, Harmony Fields, Bow, WA
Southern Region Farmer Representatives
Jennifer Taylor, Lola's Organic Farm, Glenwood, GA
*Loretta Adderson, Adderson's Fresh Produce, Keysville, GA
Northeast Region Farmer Representatives
David ColsonNew Leaf Farm, Durham, ME
*Maryrose Livingston, Northland Sheep Dairy, Marathon, NY

Advisory Non-Voting

California Organization Representative
Phil LaRocca, Chair
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)

Midwest Region Organization Representative
Renee Hunt, Program Director
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA)

North Central Region Organization Representative
*John Mesko, Executive Director
Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
Western Region Organization Representative
Becky Weed, Board of Directors
Montana Organic Association (MOA)
Southern Region Organization Representative
*Michael Sligh, Program Director
Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI-USA)
Northeast Region Organization Representative
*Ed Maltby, Executive Director,
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)
Sponsor Seat
Jeff Tkach
Rodale Institute

2019 Policy Committee

The elected Policy Committee is made up of 12 voting certified organic farmer members and six advisory organizational members. Committee members are regionally diverse and reflect the national diversity of organic farms. The Policy Committee will facilitate OFA's policy platform, created by certified organic farmer members. From its start in the fall of 2016, Organic Farmers Association has been working to build and support a farmer-led national organic farmer movement with a strong voice advocating for organic farmers.
* = Newly elected.

Voting:

California Region Farmer Representatives
*Kenneth Kimes, Greensward / New Natives, LLC, Aptos, CA
 Mark McAfee, Organic Pastures, Fresno, CA

Western Region Farmer Representatives

*Nate Lewis, Oyster Bay Farm, Olympia, WA
 Pryor Garnett, Garnetts Red Prairie Farm, Sheridan, OR
 

North Central Region Farmer Representatives

*DeEtta Bilek, Tom and DeEtta Bilek Farm, Aldrich, MN
 Harriet Behar, Sweet Springs Farm, Gays Mills, WI

Midwest Region Farmer Representatives

*Michael Adsit, Plymouth Orchards, Plymouth, MI
 Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Village Acres Farm & FoodShed, Mifflintown, PA

Southern Region Farmer Representatives

*Laura Freeman, Mt. Folly Farm, Winchester, KY
 Jennifer Taylor, Lola's Organic Farm, Glenwood, GA

Northeast Region Farmer Representatives

*Luke Gianforte, Gianforte Farm, Cazenovia, NY
 Dave Chapman, Long Wind Farm, East Thetford, VT

Advisory- Non-Voting:

California Region Organization Representative 

David Runsten, Policy Director, Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Davis, CA

Western Region Organization Representative 

*Cara Loriz, Executive Director, Organic Seed Alliance, Missoula, MT

North Central Region Organization Representative 

Matthew Miller, Policy Committee Member, Iowa Organic Association, Ames, IA

Midwest Region Organization Representative 

*Mallory Krieger, Farmer Training Program Manager, The Land Connection, Champaign, IL

Southern Region Organization Representative 

Michael Sligh, Program Director, Rural Advancement Foundation International, Pittsboro, NC

Northeast Region Organization Representative

Edward Maltby, Executive Director, Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance, Deerfield, MA