Organic Oversight

March 2, 2009

Simply because I have been critical of organic agriculture by no means implies that I am somehow “against” it. To the contrary, I embrace the core values of the movement. It’s just that I think it behooves us all to be aware of its weaknesses as well as its strengths in order for it for to achieve its greatest potential as an alternative form of agriculture. It is for this reason that I celebrate developments like the one below. This is movement in the right direction. 

-jm

 

USDA Toughens Oversight of Organic Fertilizer
Organic fertilizers must undergo testing

By Don Schrack , The Packer, February 25, 2009

On the heels of disciplinary action by the California Department of Food and Agriculture against one manufacturer and a federal probe into yet another company, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is moving to stiffen requirements for suppliers of organic fertilizers.

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the National Organic Program, announced Feb. 20 that it will require third party reviewers to implement detailed audit and inspection protocols for all high nitrogen-content liquid organic fertilizers effective Oct. 1.

California Certified Organic Farmers, Santa Cruz, Calif., which certifies the state’s organic growers, immediately applauded the federal agency’s action in a news release.

Reports surfaced in late December that the state ordered in January 2007 California Liquid Fertilizer, Gonzales, Calif., to halt distribution of its fertilizer products. On January 22, federal agents raided Port Organic Products Ltd., Buttonwillow, Calif. The following day, California Certified Organic Farmers directed the state’s certified organic grower-shippers to halt the use of the company’s products. More than a week before the Port Organic Products raid, the organization established its own liquid fertilizer approval policy. Since then, it has implemented a liquid fertilizer sampling initiative and members of the certifying group’s staff met with legislative leaders, testified at a Sacramento legislative hearing and traveled to Washington, D.C., to discuss the issue with National Organics Program officials.

“It’s been a busy two months, but we are very pleased with the outcome and the NOP decision to issue this new notice in a time-sensitive manner,” said Peggy Miars, executive director of the organization, in the news release.

The organization’s policies on organic liquid fertilizer may be found at http://www.ccof.org.