Action Alert: Protect Our Native Ecosystems with a New Rule in the National Organic Program

 

Eliminate the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems Overnight into Organic Production

 

URGENT: Submit your written comments and then, if possible, sign up to read them on one of the webinars (April 17 or 19). Slots fill up quickly, and will be closed by April 4th, if not before. Specify the CACS Subcommittee. Click here.

  

Farmer voices are especially important for this action, but the NOSB needs to hear from all concerned citizens and stewards of the Earth!

 

Sodbusting_USDA_NRSC.jpegYou are part of a strong coalition of advocates pushing for the rule change with the National Organic Program (NOP). We are almost there! 

Read our Issue Brief for more information

Your voice is needed today to push the rule recommendation forward. 

The National Organics Standards Board (NOSB) just published a proposed rule recommendation that WFA and partners like you advocated for in fall 2017.

We are on the brink of accomplishing this important change and we can't do it without you! 

Whether or not you have submitted comments in the past, we now need to urge all of the NOSB members (not just the subcommittee) to push this recommendation forward!

Your comments on this important issue will ensure organic agriculture today protects habitat fifty years from now - orangutan habitat in Borneo, burrowing owl habitat in tall grass prairies, and so many other places species inhabit on Earth.   

In just a couple of weeks, the full NOSB will be voting to approve this rule recommendation - Your voice can make a difference! Help us reach the finish line!

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After sending a draft of this rule back to the committee for revisions, the NOSB followed WFA's lead and got it right. The momentum is in our favor and we have a few Critical steps before the integrity of USDA organic label is upheld by protecting Native Ecosystems. 


Talking Points for Comments to the NOSB (Due April 4th)

Below are talking points that you should summarize in your own words. 

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    I support NOSB's motion to approve the two-part proposal to Eliminate the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems to Organic Production. The NOSB's leadership will ensure the USDA organic label provides critical protections for Native Ecosystems, and the integrity of the National Organic Program will be preserved. 

  • 1) Define “Native Ecosystems” in a way that an assessment can be made based on plant species present in natural and semi-natural vegetation types. 
  • 2) Require a timeframe of ineligibility, ensuring that a site supporting a Native Ecosystem cannot be certified for organic production for a period of 10 years from the date of conversion.

  • Pass the two-part proposal, then encourage Guidance that will ensure uniform compliance with the Native Ecosystems definition and the period of converted lands not being eligible for certification.

Instructions: Post your comments online today—deadline April 4th, 2018.

  1. Go to the comment form at regulations.gov: https://www.regulations.gov/comment?D=AMS-NOP-17-0057-0001 
  2. Write directly in the window provided, or cut and paste your comments into the window, or attach a separate document. More detailed talking points, which you can customize and paste into the Regulations.gov website, are found above. FYI: The regulations.gov website sorts for and prioritizes unique phrases in the comments, so the more you say it in your own words, the better.
  3. You can submit comments online until 11:59 p.m. (Eastern Time) on April 4, 2018 at the above link.
  4. If you are an organic farmer, or are involved in the organic industry, please be sure to mention that! Comments from organic consumers are vitally important as well, especially if you tell regulators why you care. 

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Don't forget to tell us you submitted your comments with the form below.  

Thank you! 


Want to do more?

Everyone should submit written comments. Beyond that, you can either give oral testimony on the webinar or at the meeting. 

Attend the NOSB Meeting and provide oral testimony, April 25-27, 2018.

Attending an NOSB meeting in person and delivering oral testimony is another powerful way to make your voice heard. The meeting is April 25-27, 2018 in Tucson, AZ. Slots fill up quickly, and will be closed by April 4th, if not before. 

Click here to learn more about the meeting details and how to sign up to read your statement.

If you are a farmer, you can apply for a scholarship from the National Organic Coalition, of which WFA is a Network Affiliate. Some or all of your travel, meals, and hotel may be covered.

Click here if you would like to apply for a farmer scholarship.

Click here for more background on this issue.

The National Organic Program’s three-year waiting period for land to be free of prohibited substances unintentionally incentivizes producers to convert Native Ecosystems since this land is instantly ready for organic production. While organic agriculture is an ecological management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, it offers no environmental protections prior to certification. 

With the passage of this new regulation, the NOSB will incentivize the transition of non-organic farms while minimizing the loss of lands with important habitats from conversion. These Native Ecosystems will be necessary to support declining and rare species today and a hundred years from now, when there will be much less available due to increased human populations and climate change. 

Your comment will make a difference - thank you!