OTA participates in CA citrus disease prevention meeting

citrusOTA and several of its Organic Citrus Task Force members participated in a meeting this past week with the California Department of Food and Agriculture Citrus Pest and Disease Prevention Committee (CPDPC) to further address the need for a statewide approved organic treatment protocol to control the Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP).  The organic citrus sector was provided two speaking slots to help educate the committee on organic citrus production under the National Organic Program (NOP) and the available scientific data supporting an organic treatment option. Presenters included Mark Lipson, Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advisor for the USDA Office of the Secretary, and Scott Mabbs, Chief Executive Office for Homegrown Organic Farms. Lipson discussed USDA prioritization of organic agriculture, the regulatory impact of state or federal mandatory treatments programs requiring prohibited substances under NOP, and the need to discuss cooperation between participating agencies and best utilization of USDA research dollars. Mabbs explained the negative impact to California’s citrus industry on the whole should the state eliminate organic citrus production and move entirely to chemically intensive practices. The positive take home message Mabbs left was an update on a subcommittee formed to work out the best organic treatment protocol based on current research. If the subcommittee can agree upon an organic protocol, it would likely be adopted by CPDPC and Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) and ultimately recommended to Secretary Ross. OTA will continue its work to protect organic citrus in California and keep OTA members updated. Contact Gwendolyn Wyard, OTA’s Regulatory Director of Organic Standards and Food Safety, for more information.

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