Natural Grass Sod Industry Seeks to Establish a Research and Promotion Program

May 14, 2021

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) received a request from Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) requesting the formation of a national research and promotion program for natural grass sod.

The purpose of the program would be to strengthen the position of natural grass sod in the marketplace, maintain and expand markets for natural grass sod, and develop new uses for natural grass sod within the United States. The program would be established under the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 and would be financed by an assessment on natural grass sod produced. TPI proposed an assessment rate of $0.001 per square foot or the equivalent thereof.

The program would be administered by a board of industry members nominated by the natural grass sod industry and selected by the Secretary of Agriculture. TPI proposed a board that would be composed of 13 members: four producers from the North/Cool-Season Region, five producers from the South/Warm-Season Region, and four from the Transition Zone/California Region.

The program will not become effective unless it is approved by a simple majority of producers in an initial referendum. If passed, subsequent referenda shall be conducted no later than seven years after the program becomes effective and every seven years thereafter to determine whether the industry favors the continuation of the program.

USDA is currently analyzing the proposal and, if warranted, may publish a proposed rule with request for public comments in the Federal Register to begin the implementation process of the program. Interested parties can view the draft proposal and justification for the natural grass sod program on the Proposed Research and Promotion Programs webpage.

Since 1966, Congress has authorized industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. AMS provides oversight to 22 boards. The oversight ensures fiscal accountability and program integrity and is paid for by industry assessments.

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