The Cornucopia Institute (Cornucopia, WI) has called upon USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to make public all candidates for appointment to fill the four vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).
The NOSB, a 15-member board of organic stakeholders representing farmer, consumer, environmental, retail, scientific, certifying and organic food processing interests, was established by Congress to advise the USDA on organic food and agriculture policies and review materials allowed for use in organic food production and processing.
Will Fantle, co-director, Cornucopia, said transparency has been a hallmark of organic food and agriculture and the organization thinks letting the organic community know who has applied for the vacant positions will allow for feedback and help Vilsack make the best possible appointments.
“Appointments have been made in the past of individuals who do not meet the legally mandated criteria for a seat on the NOSB. Sunshine on the secretive process could have prevented such ill-advised moves,” said Fantle.
The four NOSB vacancies up for appointment this year include an organic farmer, a retailer, an organic food handler (processor), and an environmentalist. In addition to asking Vilsack to make the list of potential appointees public, Cornucopia has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the USDA seeking release of the candidate names, according to the organization.
“We hope that by making the names of these candidates public, some of whom are eminently qualified to sit on the NOSB, it will be harder for Secretary Vilsack to ignore the intent of Congress by stacking the NOSB with additional agribusiness-friendly representatives,” said Helen Kees, board president, Cornucopia.
For more information, vist www.cornucopia.org.