November 15, 1999
Compiled by Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont Extension
(802) 257-7967

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) met October 25?28 in Washington, DC.
Kathleen Merrigan, new Administrator of USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, provided a progress report on the re?write of the proposed rule. She stated that the rule has been circulated among USDA agencies in four pieces, and has undergone revision based on feedback received. The target was to have all sections sent over to OMB (Office of Management and Budget) in the first week of November. OMB has up to 90 days to review and comment. When the next rule is published, it will again be as a proposed rule, subject to public comment. It will again contain a long preamble that responds to the large numbers of public comments on the initial proposed rule. Board discussion noted that this time frame might see a rule published in February, 60 day comment period ending in April?May, and rewrite with final rule sometime in the fall of 2000. After the final rule is published, there is a 60 day congressional review period, and then the 18 month implementation period begins.

Written by Neil D. Hamilton, Director of the Agricultural Law Center at Drake University and author of the nationally award-winning book 'What Farmers Need to Know About Environmental Law', plus he is a market gardener. The book is ring bound, 224 pages covering everything a farmer needs to know for direct farm marketing. Chapters address issues associated with labor, leasing land, insurance and inspections (as well as a host of other issues) There is also an excellent appendix that provides a state by state list of direct farm marketing resources. The book cost $20 from Drake University Agricultural Law Center (515)271-2065 (discounts for bulk orders).


On Monday, Dec. 13, the day before the New England Vegetable and Berry Conference gets underway, a pre-conference afternoon workshop on "Reducing Microbial Risks in Fruits and Vegetables in the Northeast with Good Agricultural Practices" has been scheduled. As you know, there have been some highly publicized foodborne illness outbreaks attributed to fruits and vegetables and a Northeast project team has developed a one-half day program to address these concerns. The workshop will cover: 1) Information on contamination of raw produce with harmful microorganisms during growing, harvesting, and processing, good agricultural practices, and the principles of safe food handling and processing and 2) Knowledge and skills needed to understand and implement good agricultural practices and good manufacturing practices in their operations. The agenda is:

12:00 noon Workshop Registration
1:00 p.m. Welcome - Introductions

1:15 p.m. The Importance of Food Safety to Agricultural Businesses and the Status of the Microbial Safety of Fruits and Vegetables
1:45 p.m. Food Microbiology 101: Microorganisms of Concern in Production Agriculture
2:15 p.m. Strategies for Minimizing Microbial Hazards using GAPs, Manure use, Water

3:00 p.m. Refreshment Break

3:30 p.m. Harvest and Post-Harvest Considerations: Field Worker Hygiene, Field, Transportation, Packing House Sanitation

4:15 p.m. Getting the GAPs Message Across: Effective Use of Educational Resource Materials

Please mark your calendar and plan to attend this important session. More details on pre?registering for this workshop will be in the next newsletter.

Many new pest control materials are getting labeled that have relatively low toxicity and environmental risk. I have compiled a table describing some of these. Rather than clog up people's computers, it will be printed in the next Agriview newsletter. If you don't get Agriview and want me to send you the Wordperfect file as an e-mail attachment, or if you want a hard copy in the mail, let me know.