The U.S. Department of Agriculture appointed environmentalist and farmer Francis Thicke, Ph.D. to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) today, adding valuable perspective to this 15-member advisory Board.
“Since the NOSB serves as a gatekeeper for allowed and prohibited substances, it is essential that members fully understand both organic principles and the realities of organic farming,” noted Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. “Dr. Thicke brings a wealth of knowledge of the environmental attributes and is a valuable addition to the NOSB as it carries out its duties.”
An organic farmer for over 30 years, Dr. Thicke currently operates an 80-cow, certified organic dairy in Fairfield, Iowa, producing milk, cream, yogurt, and cheese. He has been active in many environmental organizations including the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, the Leopold Group Sierra Club in Southeast Iowa, the Iowa Environmental Protection Commission, and Food Democracy Now.

Francis Thicke, Ph.D

Previously, Dr. Thicke served as a National Program Leader for Soil Science at the USDA Cooperative Extension Service, and has worked extensively in water quality and sustainable agriculture programs. He was named the 2012 Farmer of the Year by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, and is a current member of the Cornucopia Institute’s Policy Advisory Panel.
As a scientist specializing in soil fertility, Dr. Thicke also has a solid working knowledge of agricultural and food chemistry. Given the NOSB’s role in vetting substances to be used in the production and processing of organic foods, his unique blend of on-farm and scientific expertise will add significant depth to the NOSB.
Dr. Thicke’s five-year term will begin Jan. 24, 2013, replacing Barry Flamm, Ph.D. as one of the three environmentalists serving on the NOSB. USDA thanks Dr. Flamm, current NOSB Chair, for his expertise and service to the organic community.
Made up of dedicated public volunteers appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture, NOSB members include four organic farmers, two handlers, three environmentalists, three consumer advocates, a scientist, an organic retailer, and an organic certifying agent.
The National Organic Standards Board is designed by law to advise the USDA National Organic Program on which substances should be allowed or prohibited in the production and handling of organic products. The Board also makes recommendations on other topics related to the implementation of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, including standards for organic honey and pet food.
The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 established national standards for the production and handling of organic agricultural products. The Act authorized USDA to create the National Organic Program. This program is responsible for developing the USDA organic regulations and ensuring that organic farms and businesses comply with them. USDA accredits third-party certifying agents to certify organic farms and processing facilities, allowing them to sell, label, and represent their products as organic.
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.