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USDA Appoints New Members to the National Organic Standards Board

The USDA is pleased to announce five new members to the National Organic Standards Board: Carmela Beck, Producer Andrea (Zea) Sonnabend, Scientist Tracy Favre, Environmentalist Harold V. Austin, IV, Handler Jean Richardson, Ph.D., Consumer / Public Interest

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2011 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture appointed five new members to the National Organic Standards Board today, adding significant depth of experience and a wide range of perspectives to the advisory organization.  

"As the board serves a critical role in the direction of the USDA National Organic Program, we are pleased to welcome these individuals, chosen for their expertise and familiarity with organic issues," said Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.

The following representative seats, whose five-year terms begin Jan. 24, 2012, will be filled by qualified members of the organic industry, as listed:

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 much of U.S. organic produce grows, 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 work in sustainable development in addition to her understanding of organic agriculture as a result of 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 National Organic Standards Board 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.  The 15-member Congressionally-mandated advisory board comprises four organic producers, two handlers, three environmentalists, three consumer advocates, a scientist, an organic retailer, and an organic certifier.

As the agency responsible for overseeing the NOSB, the Agricultural Marketing Service ensures that membership accounts for the needs of the diverse groups served by the USDA and, to the extent practicable, encourages membership to include individuals with demonstrated ability to represent minorities, women, and persons with disabilities.

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