USDA Ends Discussion of Organic Checkoff Program
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the termination of a rulemaking proceeding that “proposed to establish a national research and promotion program for certified organic products under authority of the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996.” The Organic Trade Association proposed the program in 2015, and USDA accepted comments on the proposal in 2017.
“In response to the proposed rule, USDA received almost 15,000 comments,” according to the announcement. “The comments revealed that there is a split within the industry in terms of support for the proposed program. While some comments voiced support for a collective industry program, other comments stated that industry was not aligned in backing the proposal. Opponents raised concerns about the proposed program, including how the de minimis level would eliminate a majority of organic farmers from the program; the disproportionate impact on high value commodities as assessments would be tied to sales value; whether organic promotion is possible without being disparaging to other agricultural commodities; voting methodology; financial burden on small entities to comply; and cited the challenges to tracing imported organic products.”