Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) posted for public inspection in the Federal Register two proposed rules seeking comments on establishing an industry funded promotion, research, and information program for natural grass sod products and establishing procedures for conducting a referendum to determine whether issuance of a proposed Natural Grass Sod Research and Promotion Order is favored by natural grass sod producers.
If approved by a simple majority of producers in an initial referendum, an 11-member board would administer the proposed order. The board would be responsible for carrying out activities including plans and projects regarding promotion, research, information and education to help maintain and expand markets for natural grass sod products.
Producers would pay an initial assessment rate of one-tenth (1/10th) of one penny ($0.01) per square foot, or the equivalent thereof, of natural grass sod products. No natural grass sod producer would be exempt from paying the assessment unless producing a certified organic product under the National Organic Program.
The proposed rules were published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2023. Written comments must be received by December 15, 2023. All comments should be submitted through the e-Rulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov or to Jeana Harbison, Director, Research and Promotion Division, at Jeana.M.Harbison@usda.gov. All comments submitted by the deadline will be made available for public review and considered before any actions to establish an industry funded promotion, research, and information program for natural grass sod products is made final.
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. The Agricultural Marketing Service provides oversight to 22 boards. The oversight ensures fiscal accountability and program integrity and is paid for by industry assessments.
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