National research and promotion programs are designed to strengthen the position of a commodity in the marketplace, maintain and expand existing domestic and foreign markets, and develop new uses and markets for specified agricultural commodities. These programs require the approval through referendum of those who would be covered by the program. Assessments are collected from designated industry segments. Research and promotion boards, usually composed of producer, handler, processor, and, in some cases, importer and public members, are appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to administer the programs.
Until 1996, industry-specific legislation had to be passed by Congress before a research and promotion program could be established. However, under the Commodity, Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996, industry groups may submit a proposal to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), requesting that a research and promotion program be implemented. The implementation process takes at least a year.
Once implemented, an industry board would be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture from industry nominations. The Board would be responsible for program planning, direction, and evaluation. The board would hire a staff to carry out the day-to-day operations of the program. Each board would reimburse AMS for the cost of implementing and overseeing the program, USDA's Office of the General Counsel for legal services, and, when imports are assessed, the expenses incurred by the U.S. Customs Service in collecting the assessments.