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USDA Appoints 5 New Members to National Organic Standards Board

December 2, 2011


On Wednesday, December 1, USDA appointed five new members to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).  The NOSB makes recommendations to USDA on the policies and operations of the National Organic Program (NOP) that governs organic certification.  The 15-member Board is comprised of four farmers, three conservationists, three consumer representatives, two processors, one retailer, one scientist, and one certifying agent.  Terms are staggered.

The five new members will serve five-year terms that begin in 2012.  USDA identified them and described their credentials as follows:

  • Handler: Harold V. Austin, IV.  Mr. Austin is currently the Director of Orchard Administration for Zirkle Fruit Company, an organic tree fruit grower and shipper.  He is also a member of the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Board, the Northwest Horticultural Council’s Science Advisory Board, and Washington State University’s Leadership Team.  He has been a leader in the organic tree fruit industry for years and has had broad exposure through the marketing segments following produce from the farm to the marketplace.
  • Producer: Carmela Beck.  Ms. Beck is the National Organic Program Supervisor and Organic Certification Grower Liaison for Driscoll’s, an organic berry producer.  She is a member of the CCOF Government Advisory Council, the Organic Trade Association Mexico Task Force and Latinas in Agriculture.  She brings along extensive knowledge and experience with organic certification.  Her familiarity with California agriculture in particular, where the majority of U.S. organic produce is grown, will enhance the knowledge base of the board.
  • Environmentalist: Tracy Favre.  Ms. Favre is the Chief Operating Officer for Holistic Management International, an international non-profit group whose mission is to educate about how to manage land sustainably.  She has 17 years of experience working with municipal and industrial clients on watershed management projects as an environmental engineering consultant.  She also authors technical articles for industry journals and serves as a subject matter expert.
  • Consumer/Public Interest: Jean Richardson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita.  Dr. Richardson is Professor Emerita of Natural Resources, Environmental Studies and Geography at the University of Vermont.  She is also a maple syrup producer, organic inspector and independent contractor for matters relating to rural development, agriculture and the environment.  She has served on the board of directors of the Vermont Natural Resources Council, Northwest Medical Center, and the National Wildlife Federation. She was also appointed by President Clinton to represent the United States on the NAFTA Commission for Environmental Cooperation.  She brings to the board an extensive background in public policy and sustainable development as well as her understanding of organic agriculture due to her work as an organic inspector.
  • Scientist: Andrea (Zea) Sonnabend. Ms. Sonnabend is the Policy Specialist and Organic Inspector Specialist for CCOF, an organic certifier based in California.  She has served on the board of the Organic Materials Review Institute, the Organic Seed Alliance, the International Organic Inspectors Association, and the California Department of Agriculture Invasive Species Advisory Council.  She has extensive scientific knowledge and experience with materials used in organic production and handling. Formerly, she served as a technical advisor to the NOSB from 1993 to 1995.

Authorized by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.), the NOSB is responsible for making recommendations about whether a substance should be allowed or prohibited in organic production or handling; assisting in developing standards for substances used in organic production; and advising the Secretary on other aspects of the Act’s implementation.  Each spring, the NOP invites nominations to the NOSB.   Applicants may self-nominate or be recommended by other individuals or organizations.


Categories: Organic Farming


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