[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 45 (Monday, March 9, 2015)]
[Pages 12422-12423]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-05403]

                                                Federal Register

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Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 45 / Monday, March 9, 2015 / 

[[Page 12422]]


Agricultural Marketing Service

[Document Number AMS-NOP-15-0004; NOP-15-03]

National Organic Program; Nominations for Task Force Members

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is soliciting 
nominees to participate in a task force to examine hydroponic and 
aquaponic practices and their alignment with the USDA organic 
regulations and the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA). The USDA 
organic regulations do not include specific provisions for organic 
hydroponic or aquaponic production. However, these production systems 
have obtained certification under the USDA organic regulations by 
complying with the existing requirements for organic crop production. 
The task force will inform the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) 
of their findings and advise on what practices should be allowed or 
restricted in organic hydroponic and aquaponic production.

DATES: Written nominations, with resumes, must be post-marked on or 
before May 8, 2015. Electronic submissions must be received on or 
before May 8, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Nominations should be sent to Rita Meade, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 
Independence Avenue SW., Room 2648-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 
20250-0268 or via email to Rita.Meade@ams.usda.gov. Electronic 
submittals by email are preferred.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mark Bradley, Assistant to the Deputy 
Administrator, National Organic Program, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., 
Room 2648, STOP 0268; Washington, DC 20250-0268; Telephone (202) 720-
3252; Fax: (202) 205-7808; email: Mark.Bradley@ams.usda.gov.


Why is this task force being formed?

    The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, as amended (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) provides for the certification of agricultural products for 
human consumption. To implement this Act, AMS published the USDA 
organic regulations on December 20, 2000. The regulations provide for 
the certification of crops and livestock production and operations that 
handle and process agricultural products. Hydroponic and aquaponic 
operations are currently being certified under the USDA organic 
    Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using mineral nutrient 
solutions in water without soil. Terrestrial plants may be grown with 
their roots in the mineral nutrient solution only or in an inert 
medium, such as perlite, gravel, biochar, or coconut husk. Aquaponics 
combines the features of hydroponics and aquaculture. In these systems, 
the metabolic waste from fish tanks provides a source of nutrients for 
vegetables grown hydroponically. The USDA organic regulations do not 
include specific provisions for organic hydroponic or aquaponic 
production. However, there are certified organic operations observing 
the crop production requirements of the USDA organic regulations to 
produce organic crops via hydroponic or aquaponic growing methods. 
These operations, for example, must maintain water quality and use only 
approved inputs as fertilizers and pest control practices. Organic 
hydroponic production is allowed as long as the producer can 
demonstrate compliance with the USDA organic regulations.
    In 2010, the NOSB provided recommendations to the NOP on Production 
Standards for Terrestrial Plants in Containers and Enclosures 
(Greenhouses). The NOSB recommended practice standards for growing 
terrestrial plants in containers using growing media rather than soil. 
The NOSB recommended not allowing organic hydroponic production because 
these systems are not soil based.
    AMS is assembling a task force to assess the diversity of these 
soilless production practices and advise on what specific practices may 
or may not be supported by the current USDA organic regulations.

What are the hydroponics task force's objectives and time requirements?

    There are two main objectives of the task force: (i) To describe 
current hydroponic and aquaponic production methods used in organic 
production, and (ii) to assess whether these practices align with OFPA 
and the USDA organic regulations. The task force will prepare a report 
advising the NOSB on proposed standards or guidelines for hydroponic 
and aquaponic methods in organic agriculture. The report may be used to 
inform the NOSB on recommendations concerning hydroponic and aquaponic 
systems and for possible guidance or rulemaking by the NOP.
    USDA will name the members of the task force approximately 120 days 
after the publication of this notice. The discussions between task 
force members will be conducted through electronic mail and conference 
calls with no requirement for travel. We expect the task force to 
present its completed report to the NOSB in the spring of 2016.

What are the minimum skills and experience requirements to be 
considered for this task force?

    Candidates for the hydroponics and aquaponics task force should 
have 3 years of demonstrable work experience in hydroponic or aeroponic 
production in any of the following roles: Producer; researcher or 
scientist; consumer representative; conservationist; systems designer; 
organic inspector; or accredited certifying agent. Candidates with 
demonstrable knowledge of organic production or certification 
procedures are preferred.
    Successful candidates should be familiar with the NOSB 
recommendation on Production Standards for Terrestrial Plants in 
Containers and Enclosures (Greenhouses).
    Persons interested in serving on this task force should submit 
their qualifications in a resume or curriculum vitae format. In 
addition to this information, candidates should submit, if applicable, 
a ``declaration of interests'' list. This list should state all direct 
commercial, financial, consulting, family, or personal relationships 

[[Page 12423]]

currently exist or have existed with business entities that may be 
regulated through any future rulemaking on these issues. The 
declaration of interests lists should cover activities undertaken by 
the candidate during the past 12 months.

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 6501-6522.

    Dated: March 4, 2015.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-05403 Filed 3-6-15; 8:45 am]