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Say No to Setting Up An Organic Check-Off

Say Yes to permanently exempting all organically certified operations from paying into federal mandatory check-off programs

Tell the USDA: You Support the Organic Exemption from Federal Check-off Programs – Comment by February 17th 2015

The 2014 Farm Bill allows all organic farmers and businesses to pull assessed monies out of conventional check-off programs. In December, the USDA issued proposed rules to set this process up.

A strong response from organic farmers and businesses will let the USDA know this exemption is important to organic agriculture, and these rules need to be put in place as quickly as possible. The instructions below will guide you on how to submit comments. Here are talking points:

  • These rules give the same opportunity to farms and businesses with split operations (organic and non-organic) as 100% organic operations were granted in the 2002 Farm Bill to request a refund on organic sales assessments. This change corrects unequal treatment of organic certificate holders set by the 2002 Farm Bill.
  • This exemption will provide a level playing field. It allows organically certified farmers and handlers to use check-off monies to benefit their own operations and future, similar to the benefit that non-organic operations receive from being assessed under the Commodity Promotion Law.
  • Organics is less than 5% of agricultural production and requires very specific research and marketing. Farmers and handlers carry out a high percentage of direct-to-consumer and other marketing, or conduct research on their own farms.
  • The exemption process should be as efficient as possible. Information on certified organic operations is now available in real time so certificate holders should only need to apply once for an exemption from the check-off, not every year. Commodity boards can be informed by the NOP when the operation loses its organic certification.
  • Organics should have a blanket exemption from all Research and Promotion programs.
  • For Marketing Orders, the organic exemption should be the marketing portion average of all AMS Marketing Orders.

Comments must be postmarked no later than February 17, 2015. They can be electronically submitted at:
http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;
D=AMS-FV-14-0032-0038