Proposed Expansion of Assessment Exemption for Organic Products Gets Longer Comment Period
The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service has extended from Jan. 15 to Feb. 17 the period for public comments on a proposed rule that would expand the assessment exemptions for a wide range of organic food products.
The proposed rule would allow persons who import, produce, handle or market certified organic products to be exempt from paying assessments associated with commodity promotion activities, including paid advertising, conducted under a commodity promotion program administered by AMS. Specifically, the proposal would apply to products covered under 22 research and promotion programs (covering beef, cotton, dairy, eggs, fluid milk, Hass avocados, mushrooms, popcorn, pork, potatoes, soybeans, watermelons, blueberries, Christmas trees, honey, lamb, mangoes, paper and paper-based products, peanuts, processed raspberries, softwood lumber and sorghum) and 23 federal marketing orders (covering citrus, avocadoes, apricots, sweet cherries, grapes, pears, cranberries, tart cherries, olives, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, Far West spearmint oil, dates, raisins and dried prunes grown in specific U.S. regions).
The assessment exemption would cover all “organic” and “100 percent organic” products certified under the National Organic Program regardless of whether the person requesting the exemption also imports, produces, handles or markets conventional or nonorganic products, including of the same agricultural commodity as that for which the exemption is claimed. Currently, only persons who exclusively produce and market products certified as 100 percent organic are eligible for an assessment exemption.