New Ruling Provides Exemption from Commodity Checkoff Programs

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A new ruling, published by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service on December 31, 2015, exempts organic farmers and handlers from paying into commodity checkoff programs. USDA has estimated that the expanded exemption would save the organic industry $13.6 million.

Mandated by the 2014 farm bill, this new rule expands the current regulations to allow anyone that produces, handles, markets, processes, manufactures, feeds or imports “organic” and “100 percent organic” products to be exempt from paying assessments associated with commodity promotion activities, including paid advertising, conducted under a commodity promotion program administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS.  The exemption covers all “organic” and “100 percent organic” products certified under the National Organic Program, regardless of whether the person requesting the exemption also produces, handles, markets, processes, manufactures, feeds, or imports conventional or nonorganic products.