2010 20.4 WSDA Organic Program Update

It has been a busy year for our program, one in which we have seen a change in leadership, we have welcomed new staff, and despite a poor economy, our overall numbers of certified clients has remained relatively steady.

Following is some news and information that affects our clients. As always, we welcome your input and feedback and look forward to hearing from you.

Organic Program launches electronic newsletter

The Organic Program recently moved from a printed quarterly newsletter to a periodic electronic version. This shift from mailbox to inbox gives our program the ability to continue to share the same useful news, articles and event announcements our clients came to expect in the Organic Quarterly, only in a more timely and dynamic way.

The newsletter includes brief articles with links to more information about each topic covered. As we intend to use this format as our principal venue for communicating, please take a moment to browse each edition for items that may affect your operation.

Changes and pertinent information such as materials updates, policy revisions, and more will all be featured. If you are a certified client and did not receive a copy, please contact us to confirm your e-mail address so we may continue to keep you informed.

We will continue to provide hard copies to those who do not have access to e-mail, as well as offer copies on our web site for general viewing.

WSDA welcomes new staff

Marty Beagle joined us in April as our new program manager, bringing his experience as The Evergreen State College’s Science and Visual Arts Operations Manager.

Jeff Britt migrated over from the WSDA Pesticide Management Division to join our materials review program.

Lastly, we’re happy to have Lisa White, who has been aiding our administrative needs on a part-time basis, joining us fulltime.

Certified operations

With the abilities and team effort of a terrific staff, WSDA currently certifies 1,144 operations. The majority are crop and livestock producers, however our services also extend to processors, handlers, and retailers.

As stated above, this overall number has remained relatively stable through the downturn in economy. In 2009, total certified operations was 1,195 and included 115,480 acres. In 2010, the program encompasses 104,540 organic acres and 1,710 transitional acres.

While it may take some time to reach the level of year-to-year growth we experienced prior to the recession, we do expect to see growth again in the near term.

2010 cost share funds expiring soon!

The National Organic Program (NOP) administers a cost-share program for producers and handlers who, once certified by an accredited certifying agent, may be reimbursed up to 75 percent of costs related to organic certification, not to exceed $750 annually.

The WSDA Organic Program offers these cost share funds to our certified producers each fiscal year. While funds for the 2009-2010 are no longer available, USDA has allotted Washington State $475,000 for the upcoming 2011 fiscal year.

We look forward to continuing this program and providing this cost sharing benefit to our clients next year. Organic cost share applications can be downloaded from our web site http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/default.aspx.

If this is the first time you have applied for cost share funds, you will also need to submit a form W-9, also available on our web site. Please visit the NOP’s cost share webpage for more information: http://tiny.cc/nk1hi.

WSDA Brand Name Materials List published on Organic Program web site

The Brand Name Materials List (BNML) is published on the Organic Program web site at http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/MaterialsLists.aspx.

The WSDA Organic Program maintains a list of products we have determined meet the requirements under the National Organic Standards.

The companies on this list have specifically requested a review of their products, and therefore this is not a comprehensive list of all materials that are allowed.

WSDA certified organic operators can use products on the BNML and maintain confidence that the use of these products will not jeopardize certification.

If you are certified by an agency other than WSDA, check with your certifier prior to the use of any material. WSDA does not provide any guarantee or warranty for materials included on this list, nor offer an endorsement to any product.

You can request a hard copy from our office by calling 360.902.1805 or e-mail .

National Organic Program rules on methionine use in poultry

The National Organic Program recently announced an extension for the allowance of methionine in organic poultry production until Oct. 1, 2012.

The maximum allowable limits of methionine per ton of feed are as follows: four pounds for layers, five pounds for broilers, and six pounds for turkeys and all other poultry.

This extension is based upon a recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board from their April 2010 meeting.

Methionine is an essential amino acid necessary in poultry diets for proper cell growth and feather development. While methionine is naturally present in organic poultry feed, the amount is not sufficient to maintain the optimal health of the birds.

The NOSB determined that the loss of the use of synthetic methionine would disrupt the organic poultry market and cause substantial economic hardship to organic poultry operations.

This rule will take effect on October 1, 2010.The interim rule and public comments may be viewed at http://www.regulations.gov, filed as document AMS-NOP-10-0051. For further information about this rule, contact Melissa Bailey, Director, Standards Division of NOP at 202-720-3252.

In addition, the WSDA Organic Food Program would be happy to forward any comments from Tilth Producers constituents about this rule change to the appropriate channels at the NOP.

Tags: Certification, Methionine, National Organic Program, Newsletter, NOP, Poultry, WSDA