NOP Report: Bigger Budget, Added Jobs and More
By Jennifer Rose
At the most recent National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting this
spring, Barbara Robinson, acting director of the National Organic Program
(NOP), announced that the budget for the NOP increased by $630,000 for FY
’09, and that she expects NOP to double in size by 2010. This year’s increase
raises the budget to over $6 million.
She also announced that in light of budgetary increases, NOP is working to
expand the size of its staff. “We will hire as many people as we can afford,” she
Additionally, Robinson said she has sent
a memo to USDA, requesting that NOP
be managed as its own division within
AMS. From her perspective, NOP has
evolved to the point where it can “stand
on its own,” and should therefore
have its own office within USDA
where it can receive “more recognition and be given more clout.” She
also noted that USDA has been receptive to these ideas and is “giving
serious consideration” to her request
for the development of a division dedicated to organic. In fact, the new Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Kathleen Merrigan, is championing this effort
(see Dialogue, page 42).
Additionally, Robinson provided an update on several regulatory issues on
which NOP has been working. She indicated that NOP has received over
19,000 comments on the pasture rule from the organic industry, and that NOP
expects to publish a rule later this year. She also noted that NOP is working on
the origin of livestock rule.
Robinson also acknowledged the frustration that the NOSB experiences
around NOP’s slow response to its recommendations. She noted that since
2002, NOSB has made 65 non-material recommendations, and that NOP has
not, to date, worked on them.
She thus proposed that NOSB “call a time out” and consider organizing a
meeting between NOP and NOSB to identify the NOSB’s top priorities. Such a
meeting could take the form of a symposium, or it could be included as part of
the NOSB’s regular meetings, she added.
In concluding her remarks, she offered the following updates:
• NOP is leaning toward accepting OTA’s Liquid Fertilizer Task Force recommendation if certifiers can verify an auditable traceback plan.
• NOP is working with the Office of Science and Technology to develop a
database of petitioned substances.
• NOP is looking for more nominations to the NOSB; there are two producer
slots, one retailer slot, and one handler slot available.
• NOP is working on clarifying guidance on flavors, looking to affidavits with
strong punitive action for violations.
• NOP is also working on a protocol for renewal dates on certificates.
For more on the NOSB spring meeting, check out the Managing column on
Adapted from the Organic Trade Association’s “NOSB Report,” May 2009
New Study: Families Purchasing
More Organics Despite
Challenging Economic Times
Findings from the “2009 U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study” released at
the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) All
Things Organic Conference and Trade Show in
June show that U.S. families are not giving up
their purchases of organic products despite uncertainty over the economy.
In the study jointly sponsored by OTA and
KIWI Magazine, three in 10 U.S. families ( 31 percent) indicated they are actually purchasing
more organic foods compared to a year ago,
with many parents preferring to reduce their
spending in other areas before targeting organic
product cuts. In fact, 17 percent of U.S. families
said their largest increases in spending in the
past year were for organic products.
OTA collaborated with KIWI Magazine on
the national research study to gauge attitudes
and behavior of families concerning organic
product purchases. Managed by RMI Research
and Consulting, LLC, the study was fielded
among U.S. households during April.
Compiling results gathered from 1,200 fami-ies across the United States, this
research identifies and profiles
those who promote buying
organic among family,
friends and co-workers, specifically exploring the role
parents play as potential influencers.
Data reveal the typical
path of organic purchases, beginning with
the most common points of
entry and tracing this through succeeding product category purchases. The study also explores
families’ organic grocery shopping experiences
and their preferences for the way organic products are organized and displayed at the retail
level. In addition, it examines consumers’ understanding of organic product labels.
The final written report and an accompany-ng CD providing a PowerPoint presentation of
study highlights can be purchased from OTA.
Orders can be placed via the bookstore on OTA’s