Organic Advocates Optimistic About New Appointments

Along with new members of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the National Cooperative Grocers Association and its partners in the National Organic Coalition (NOC) recently celebrated the appointment of Miles McEvoy as deputy administrator of the National Organic Program (NOP), along with new members of the NOSB.

McEvoy’s appointment is a continuation of the Obama administration’s increased emphasis on supporting organic agriculture and the United States Department of Agriculture’s focus on strengthening the integrity of the NOP and USDA organic seal.

“McEvoy is a leader in the organic movement. He comes at the right time with the right experience to strengthen confidence, integrity and transparency in the organic label while leading the NOP into the 21st century,” comments Michael Sligh, NOC member and founding chairman of the NOSB.

McEvoy brings 20 years of experience in organic agriculture to his new position. He most recently served as the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Organic program manager, a program he founded and led for 20 years, and as president of the National Association of State Organic Programs, which McEvoy helped establish in 1998.

The NOP, which administers the organic seal, was created as a result of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990. In a recent USDA press release, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack indicated that, “NOP will become an independent program area within AMS (Agricultural Marketing Services) because of the increased visibility and emphasis on organic agriculture throughout the farming community, evolving consumer preferences, and the enhanced need for governmental oversight of this widely expanded program.” Vilsack also stated that the NOP will receive increased funding and staffing in the new fiscal year.

“NOP’s new status as a fully independent program area within AMS signals its coming of age and the importance of organic agriculture’s contributions to society and the marketplace,” stated Liana Hoodes, NOC policy coordinator.

The Washington State Organic Program led by McEvoy was accredited by International Organic Accreditation Services, an independent organization recognized in 2004 by National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) program. “With NOP preparing for a third-party review of its own accreditation program by NIST’s National Voluntary Conformity Assessment Systems Evaluation, McEvoy’s experience at a state level gives him a real advantage in taking the national program through this process,” stated Sligh.

“We are heartened by the USDA’s attention to the NOP program and by its public recognition of the many benefits of organic. McEvoy’s appointment is another milestone in what we hope will be many more to come for expanding organic food and agriculture in our food system,” Hoodes added.

In a related announcement, National Organic Coalition member Jay Feldman is one of five members Vilsack recently named to the NOSB. An environmentalist from Washington, D.C., Feldman has nearly 30 years’ experience in environmental issues and serves as Executive Director of Beyond Pesticides. Feldman was the NOC endorsed candidate for the environmentalist slot on the board.

The five new NOSB members

  • Jay Feldman, environmentalist (candidacy endorsed by National Organic Coalition)
  • Jon Foster, organic handler (candidacy endorsed by National Organic Coalition)
  • Joe Dickson , organic retailer (from Whole Foods)
  • Wendy Fulwider, organic farmer
  • Annette Riherd, organic famer
See other articles from this issue: #145 November - December - 2009