Jan 5, 2016
USDA expands organic assessment exemption
Ana Olvera

The USDA recently issued a final rule to expand the exemption for certified organic products from assessments collected by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The rule will be effective on Feb. 29.

As directed by the 2014 Farm Bill, all “organic” and “100 percent organic” products may now be exempt from assessments, regardless of whether the entity requesting an exemption also produces non-organic products. Previously, the exemption only applied to farms and businesses that solely produced, processed or imported products that were certified 100 percent organic. It also extends the exemption from assessments for promotion and research activities to producers, marketers, processors, or importers of “organic” and “100 percent organic” products certified under the National Organic Program.

There are 22 national research and promotion programs and 23 marketing order programs that have market promotion authority. For the research and promotion programs, eligible producers, handlers, marketers, processors, manufacturers, feeders, and importers can apply for an exemption from assessments on products certified as “organic” or “100 percent organic.” Under the federal marketing order programs, eligible handlers can apply for exemption from the portion of the total assessment that is designated for market promotion activities. The marketing orders that will provide exemptions are for Florida citrus, Texas citrus, Florida avocados, Washington apricots, Washington sweet cherries, Southeastern California grapes, Oregon/ Washington pears, cranberries, tart cherries, California olives, Colorado potatoes, Georgia Vidalia onions, Washington/Oregon Walla Walla onions, Idaho/Eastern Oregon onions, Texas onions, Florida tomatoes, California almonds, Oregon/Washington hazelnuts, California walnuts, Far West spearmint oil, California dates, California raisins, and California dried prunes.

Industry research and promotion programs and federal marketing orders are requested by industry and funded by industry assessments. The programs work to create and expand markets for the agricultural commodities they represent. AMS oversees the programs to ensure fiscal accountability, program integrity, and fair treatment of participating stakeholders.

For more information, visit the AMS website or contact Barry Broadbent, senior marketing specialist, or Michelle P. Sharrow, branch chief, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program at (202) 720-2491.

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