Have an Opinion on the Organic Check-off? Comment Today!

The proposed organic check-off program is open for comment through March 20, 2017. CCOF members are strongly encouraged to comment. Comments should include any recommended improvements to the proposal as it is now published and whether the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) should move forward with putting the proposal to a nationwide referendum.

About the Organic Check-off

The proposed Organic Check-off program is projected to raise at least $30 million per year to fund organic research, technical assistance, and promotion of the organic brand. The funding would come from a mandatory assessment throughout the organic value chain, with an exemption for producers with gross organic revenue below $250,000. The proposed organic check-off would be overseen by a board of elected farmers and handlers (exempt producers may opt in for voting and board eligibility). For a summary and background on the proposal, visit GROorganic or contact the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

Why Submit a Comment?

Now is the time to weigh in on the final details of the proposed check-off program as it is now published. Your comment to the USDA may address any of the following:

  • The governance structure of the program, including voting rights and the diversity of the governance board
  • The amount and means of assessing fees
  • Protections for smaller producers
  • The allocation of funds for promotion and research
  • Accountability for regional research needs
  • Other details on the structure of the program

Moreover, USDA needs to hear from stakeholders about whether to move forward with a nationwide referendum. The check-off program must be approved by a majority of certified organic entities in the United States. Therefore, USDA must conduct a nationwide referendum before it can move forward with implementing the organic check-off. If approved, certified organic entities will vote every seven years on whether to continue the program.

How to Comment

The proposed organic check-off and commenting instructions are available at regulations.gov (docket AMS-SC-16-0112). Contact OTA for a comment toolkit that includes tips for submitting a comment. Contact me at kdamewood@ccof.org for additional information.

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