This is a long-term endeavor, assume 3 years. First, OTA will advocate for removal of the current barriers to establishing an organic research and promotion order. All substantive decisions regarding the parameters of the program will be made by the industry itself. OTA stands ready to facilitate decision making as well as to take the lead on the administrative effort to submit an application to USDA- Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS).
- OTA will advocate for removal of the current legislative barriers to establishing an organic research and promotion order.
Law requires that no one can be mandated to pay into two check-off programs. OTA will work to fix the limitations of the current exemption for organic producers paying into conventional orders. (This requires a legislative fix)
- The 2000 Farm Bill amended The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (1990 Farm Bill) to allow commodities that are 100% organic to be exempt from paying assessments.
- USDA-AMS released final rules on exemption effective February 2005, providing exemptions for those commodities that are 100% organic.
- Only farms that are 100% organic are exempt.
-Farms that use parallel production are not exempt.
- Only products certified to the 100% organic standard qualify.
- For example due to the mandatory addition of vitamins A and D, fluid milk processors are not currently exempt because their product is not able to reach the 100% organic threshold.
The applicable governing 'generic' Research and Promotion legislation does not allow for multiple-commodity programs. (Organic stretches across all commodities.)
- The generic act could be amended to accommodate multiple-commodity programs, or
- The industry could propose self-standing organic Research and Promotion legislation, or
- Organic could be designated as a distinct commodity.
- OTA is evaluating the options, benefits, and feasibility of these three approaches.
- While all substantive decisions will be made by the industry itself, OTA stands ready to facilitate this decision-making as well as to take the lead on the administrative effort to submit an application to USDA- Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS).
- OTA will reach out to thought leaders, grassroots stakeholders, and allied organizations to present the opportunity and gain initial feed-back and assess interest level.
- Should there be sufficient interest, OTA would then facilitate town hall style meetings for all stakeholders regionally, assisting the industry in defining the parameters of a R&P program and corresponding application
- The proposal does require a substantial amount of information, including an overview of the commodity industry and details of the proposed program.
- Ultimately an industry wide vote is required.