The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service is proposing to establish an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for certified organic products. Comments on this proposal are due no later than March 20.

The purpose of this program would be to strengthen the position of certified organic products in the marketplace, support research to benefit the organic industry, and improve access to information and data across the organic sector. The organic market includes a range of agricultural commodities such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, poultry, breads, grains, snack foods, condiments, beverages, and packaged and prepared foods as well as non-food items such as fiber (linen and clothing), personal care products, pet food, and flowers.

Under the proposed Organic Research, Promotion, and Information Order, importers importing greater than $250,000 in transaction value of organic products for the previous marketing year would pay an assessment of one-tenth of one percent of the transaction value of certified organic products reported to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Certified domestic producers and handlers with gross sales of certified organic agricultural commodities in excess of $250,000 for the previous marketing year would pay an assessment of one-tenth of one percent of net organic sales. Importers, producers, and handlers that fall below these thresholds could choose to pay assessments into the program as voluntarily assessed entities.

A referendum would be held among importers and domestic producers and handlers to determine whether they favor implementation of this program prior to it going into effect. AMS is requesting comments by March 20 on the proposed procedures for conducting this referendum.

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