Long-awaited organic exemption from commodity check-offs

GroApplesroundedThe U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this past Thursday published its long-awaited announcement that all organic farmers and handlers in the United States can choose whether to pay into and participate in conventional commodity check-off programs or opt out of those programs and put their dollars into a proposed  organic research and promotion order now under review by the agency. The 2014 Farm Bill had authorized USDA to expand this exemption. OTA has hailed this move as a major victory and step forward for the organic sector. USDA estimates that not having to contribute to conventional check-offs will free up an extra $13.6 million per year for organic stakeholders to invest back into the organic industry. The final rule goes into effect on Feb. 29. For additional coverage, check out the story “Organic farmers reap broader exemption from crop fees.”

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