US NOBS recommendation on certification of multi-site operations
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
The US NOSB (National Organic Standards Board) is about to submit a recommendation to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) regarding the certification of multi-site operations (including community grower groups). Over the past few months the Certification, Accreditation and Compliance Committee (CAC) of the NOSB has been drafting a recommendation concerning group certification. Currently, the 2002 NOSB recommendation on group certification is allowed as a guidance document for accredited certifying agents (ACA), but the CAC was mandated to update and/or clarify the 2002 NOSB recommendation in order to address the issues related to oversight and inspection of grower groups that resulted from the non-compliance decision of a grower group certification earlier this year.
The CAC just completed their work and their recommendation is now posted in the US Federal Register for an open public comment period ending on the 12th of November. Comments will be considered at the November 28-30, 2007 NOSB meeting, during which a vote by the NOSB on the group certification recommendation is expected. The agenda of the upcoming NOSB meeting and the CAC recommendation can be viewed at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nosb/meetings/11_07agenda.html.
The US being the largest market for organic products in the world, and group certification being a main model through which developing country organic producers are certified, it appeared essential for IFOAM to take a leading position in influencing the outcome of the NOSB recommendation drafting process. Since August 2007, IFOAM has been liaising with those who have been drafting the CAC recommendations and with the US National Organic Program (NOP) to educate on and advocate for the group certification concept based on IFOAM’s criteria and guidelines. Despite these efforts, IFOAM is not satisfied with the final CAC recommendations.
Fulfilling its role of leading the organic movement worldwide, IFOAM is working on a response to the recommendation, and will then organize a member call to action as needed to influence the outcome of the NOSB vote. A special IFOAM Task Force is now preparing a position on the CAC recommendations, to be released the week prior to the deadline for comments.
The recommendation has far-reaching implications for a considerable number of smallholders in developing countries, as well as for processors and traders already struggling with un-harmonized national organic regulations and certification requirements. It is particularly important that you do not miss the opportunity to contribute to this process by sending comments that are coordinated and consistent with the approach jointly developed and well-tried by international stakeholders under the IFOAM umbrella framework.
IFOAM calls its members and all the other organizations concerned by the issue of group certification to wait for the release of IFOAM’s position before sending their comments to the NOSB. IFOAM will prepare a sample letter for comments to help the stakeholders meet the deadline for comments and increase the impact of this collective action. Please, watch out for IFOAM’s next special announcement and be prepared to respond to the open public comment call within the short deadline of the 12th of November.
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