2012 22.3 WSDA Organic Program Update

Look for Organic Certified Labels

As farmers markets open for the season, more Washingtonians will be buying and preparing fresh, locally grown foods. For consumers interested in buying organic products, WSDA advises looking for the USDA organic label, certifier seal, or asking to see an organic certificate. All provide evidence that the product was grown on farms that are inspected each year to ensure compliance with the nationwide organic standards.

For example, certified organic farmers must use organic seeds and must refrain from using most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. They must provide organic feed to their animals and ensure the animals are allowed outside every day. Animals such as cows and goats must graze on pasture during the growing season. Organic farmers are also required to protect and conserve soil and to rotate their crops to help prevent disease and weeds.

For very small farms that sell less than $5,000 of agriculture products in a year, following the guidelines is still required but certification is optional. If a farmer is not certified, it’s a good idea for consumers to ask them about their farming practices.

Started in 1988 the USDA-accredited WSDA Organic Program upholds the integrity of the organic label through certification and inspection of organic crop and livestock producers, processors, handlers and retailers. The Program is the oldest and largest state certification agency in the country and is entirely feefunded. Currently WSDA certifies over 1,100 organic clients and registers 750 material inputs for organic production. A list of the current WSDA certified operations, as well as information about organic certification, can be found online at: http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/.

NOSB update on Inerts allowance

At their spring meeting in Albuquerque, NM, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) voted to continue the allowance of List 3 Inerts for use in passive polymeric dispensers with the following language:

Inert ingredients exempt from the requirement of a tolerance under 40 CFR 180.1122 that were formerly on EPA List 3 inpassive polymeric dispenser products may be used until October 21, 2017.

It is the understanding of the NOSB that the NOP is committed to expediting the review of all inert ingredients as soon as possible and will support the NOSB in creating a plan for inerts review and accompanying work plan for the crops committee to complete this work.

There are a number of inerts found in material inputs that have to date been allowed for use as a broad category under the EPA’s classification of what is referred to as List 3. In recent years, however, the EPA has revised the way in which these inerts are classified and listed. As a result, the NOSB has been in discussion on whether to review each of these inerts or allow them in whole or part.

So that there is no interruption in their use, as noted above the NOSB moved to continue to allow those inerts used in passive pheromone dispensers through October 21, 2017. This allows for further discussion on how these inerts will be dealt with beyond 2017. As with all materials, please notify a certifier prior to use of a new material to ensure that they are compliant for use in organic production.

crop and processing training

The Organic Food Program and the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA) will co-host a crop and processing training in Leavenworth, WA June 11-15. IOIA is a non-profit, professional association of organic farm, livestock, and process inspectors dedicated to verification of organic production practices and conducts trainings worldwide. WSDA staff, as well as inspectors from around the country, will participate in classroom sessions and on-site mock inspections to sharpen inspection skills. WSDA is happy to offer up the organic orchards and facilities of our state to further the expertise of inspectors around the globe.

Preparing for Organic Inspection

Under the National Organic Standards, organic operations are required to undergo an annual inspection and audit that ensures the operation is compliant with the Standards. WSDA is making a concerted effort this year to contact operations in advance of their annual inspection. In doing so, WSDA intends to highlight the type of records producers can expect to be audited. Records a producer may expect to be requested include but are not limited to: organic seed source verification, material input purchase and application records, compost production records, and harvest and sales records.

For a more comprehensive list of records, see our Guide to Certification:

Inspectors will be in touch to schedule inspections. As always, feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Tags: Inerts Allowance, Organic, Organic Certification, Organic Practices, USDA