It’s that time again. When the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meets to discuss what should, and what shouldn’t, be allowed in organics.
This year’s four-day meeting will take place in La Jolla, Calif., beginning on April 27. OCA will be there to present your comments on two important issues. One, whether to raise allowed levels of a synthetic growth promoter, methionine, in organic chicken feed. And two, whether or not organic farmers should be allowed to use manure from factory farms.
On methionine: OCA advocates for banning the use of synthetic methionine in organics. Synthetic methionine, which acts as a growth promoter, is used primarily by large, factory-farm-like operations that skirt U.S. Department of Agriculture rules requiring organic poultry farmers to provide outdoor access for their birds. Alternatives to synthetic methionine exist, including natural supplementation with organic whole wheat, organic whole oats, alfalfa meal, sunflower meal, fish meal and limestone, and access to pasture where birds get enough methionine from a natural diet.
On factory farm manure in organics: Current National Organic Program regulations allow organic farmers to use waste from factory farms, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) as the industry calls them. There is no requirement to test this waste for heavy metals or antibiotics, even though growing plants can absorb some of these contaminants.
OCA’s position is that CAFO waste should be banned from organic farming, though we also recognize that there isn’t enough clean manure to go around. The NOSB will discuss this issue, including where and how organic farmers can get enough clean manure. Ultimately, the answer lies in ridding the world of factory farms, and replacing them with alternative models, including large-scale, economically viable organic, regenerative farms.
The deadline for the submission of written comments was April 7, but there’s still time to have your comments submitted at the meeting when we testify.