Policy Updates

This article was originally published in January 2019

Farm Bill

At press time, President Trump had just signed a new Farm Bill into law.

There are big wins for organic farmers, including increased funding for organic research to a level that ensures permanent baseline funding into the future.

It continues funding the organic certification cost-share program, which helps farmers defray the expense of transitioning to organic. It also provides for better enforcement and oversight of organic imports.

The new Farm Bill, however, contains two troubling provisions that weaken and undercut the structure and authority of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which is responsible for keeping toxic substances out of organic production.

One provision allows employees of produce companies to hold farmer seats on NOSB, even if they are not farmers. This provision could dilute the voice of independent organic farmers and favor the interests of industrial-scale operators.

The second provision contains unnecessary language about NOSB voting procedures that decide what synthetic materials are allowed (or not) in organic products. PCC and the National Organic Coalition oppose these efforts that make it easier for harmful materials to be used in organic production.

National Organic Standards Board

PCC’s VP of Social Environmental Responsibility, Brenna Davis, and PCC’s Director of Public Affairs Quality Standards, Trudy Bialic, attended the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Over three days, the NOSB voted on 14 proposals, considered seven discussion documents, completed reviews of more than 40 sunset materials, and passed two resolutions. Highlights include unanimous support for allowing continued use of paper pots for organic crop starts and a resolution urging USDA to issue a rule to address differences in how certifiers interpret the origin of organic dairy livestock.

You can read PCC’s comments to the NOSB here.

Glyphosate petition

PCC joined a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to prohibit use of the herbicide glyphosate on crops just before harvest and to limit sharply the amount of glyphosate residues allowed on oats.

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested oat-based foods and found almost three-fourths of the samples had levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective of children’s health. Its petition asks EPA to restore the legal limit for glyphosate residues to the limit it was in 1993. Glyphosate residues allowed have increased 300-fold since 1997.

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