USDA: Expansion of organic assessment exemption

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing expanding the organic exemption from assessments under various commodity promotion programs administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The changes are directed by the Agricultural Act of 2014 (the Farm Bill).

This action would apply the exemption from assessments to producers, handlers, marketers, or importers of “organic” and “100 percent organic” products certified under the National Organic Program. The exemption would apply regardless of whether the person requesting the exemption for organic products also deals with non-organic products. Currently, the exemption only applies to entities that solely produce, handle, market, or import products that are certified 100 percent organic. The proposed rule would increase the number of organic industry entities eligible for assessment exemptions.

There are 22 national research and promotion programs. Under these programs producers of a particular agricultural product pay assessments to fund marketing campaigns and research initiatives that benefit their industry (for example, the well-known “Got Milk” campaign was developed with the dairy industry’s promotion program, funded by assessments from dairy producers). Under the proposal announced today, eligible producers, marketers, and importers would be exempt from paying assessments for these promotion programs on products certified as “organic” or “100 percent organic.”

Under federal marketing order programs, eligible handlers would be exempt from the portion of the total assessment that is designated for market promotion activities. There are 23 marketing order programs that have market promotion authority.

For more information:
Barry Broadbent
or Michelle Sharrow
Tel: +1 (202) 720-2491

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