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Organic Producers and Markete

AMS No. 276-04

Becky Unkenholz (202) 720-8998
George Chartier (202) 720-8998



WASHINGTON, Jan 13, 2005 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service today announced two rules to exempt certain organic producers and marketers from paying assessments under research and promotion programs, and for market promotion activities under marketing order programs.

The change will exempt producers and marketers operating under a National Organic Program-approved organic system plan from paying assessments, provided they produce and market only commodities eligible for a “100 percent organic” label.

The 2002 Farm Bill directed USDA to issue regulations exempting any person who produces and markets solely 100 percent organic products from paying assessments under a commodity promotion law.

Currently, 17 national research and promotion programs exist for blueberries, beef, cotton, dairy, eggs, fluid milk, Hass avocados, honey, lamb, mangos, mushrooms, peanuts, popcorn, pork, potatoes, soybeans and watermelons. Eligible producers and marketers will be exempt from all assessments under these programs.

Under the marketing order programs, eligible producers and marketers will only be exempt from assessments for market promotion activities. The 28 marketing order programs that have market promotion authority are Texas citrus; Florida avocados; California nectarines; California peaches and pears; Washington apricots; Washington sweet cherries; Washington/Oregon fresh prunes; Southeastern California grapes; Oregon/Washington winter pears; cranberries; tart cherries; Oregon/Washington Bartlett pears; California olives; Oregon/California potatoes; Colorado potatoes; Georgia Vidalia onions; Washington/Oregon Walla Walla onions; Idaho/Eastern Oregon onions; Texas onions; Florida tomatoes; Texas melons; California almonds; Oregon/Washington hazelnuts; California walnuts; Far West spearmint oil; California dates; California raisins; and California dried prunes.

Details of the exemptions, including application procedures, will be available in the "Rules" section of the Jan. 14 Federal Register. Eligible persons should contact their board, council or committee for additional information. The new Final Rule to Exempt Organic Producers from Assessment by Research and Promotion Programs, and related information is available at: The new Final Rule to Exempt Organic Producers and Marketers from Assessments for Market Promotion Activities under Marketing Order Programs, and related information is available at:


These programs are industry-funded and charged with creating and expanding markets for the agricultural commodities they represent. USDA oversees the programs, including review of budgets, plans and projects. Depending on the commodity, producers, handlers, first handlers, processors, importers, exporters, feeders and seed stock producers pay assessments to these commodity boards to fund the programs.


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