The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service 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.

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.

Eligible persons should contact their board, council or committee for additional information.

Source: USDA Release