Five new members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will be taking office this January, having won approval from the USDA earlier this month. The 15-member board is responsible for setting and upholding the national organic standards, in addition to determining what substances may be used in USDA-certified organic products.
The NOSB is comprised of four farmers, three environmentalists, three consumer interest advocates, two handlers, one retailer, one scientist and one USDA certifying agent, in order to properly represent the different interests of the organic farming community.
The new members will be:
Harold V. Austin (Handler)
Austin current is the director of Orchard Administration at Zirkle Fruit Company, an organic fruit tree grower and shipper. He is also a board member of two organic advisories, the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Board and the Northwest Horticultural Council’s Science Advisory Board.
Carmela Beck (Farmer)
Beck is the National Organic Program Supervisor and Organic Certification Grower Liaison for Driscoll’s, one of the largest organic berry producers in the country. She previously worked for a an organic certification agency, and for the American Indian Resource Center.
Tracy Favre (Environmentalist)
Favre is Chief Operating Officer for Holistic Management International, an organization that promotes strategies for sustainable land usage, and farm restoration.
Andrea Sonnabend (Scientist)
Sonnabend is currently the Policy and Organic Inspector specialist working at California Certified Organic Farmer (CCOF), one of the first organizations to provide organic certification in North America. She previously served as a board member of the Organic Materials Review Institute, the Organic Seed Alliance and California Department Invasive Species Advisory Council.
Jean Richardson (Consumer Interest Advocate)
Richardson holds a Ph.D and is Professor Emerita of Natural Resources, Environmental Studies and Geography at the University of Vermont. She was previously appointed by President Clinton to the NAFTA Commission for Environmental Cooperation. In addition to serving on several environmental protection boards, she Richardson has gotten press for being a tough inspector who has caused several producers to lose their organic certification.
Many people rely on the USDA Organic label, yet many food industry lobbyists are working constantly to weaken the rigorousness of the organic certification process. Although the Obama administration has gotten mixed reviews when it comes to promoting organic policies, the newest nominees appear to be well-suited to upholding standards and even creating more rigorous ones.