USDA makes another push for organics with new check-off program
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing a nationwide research and promotion check-off program for the organic industry according to a press release. The move was championed by the Organic Trade Association, which said the program will have positive impact on organic farmers, businesses and consumers.
- The proposal, Generic Research and Promotion Order for Organic (GRO Organic), could help raise more than $30 million a year to spend on research and technical services. The funds would help accelerate adoption of organic practices, provide consumer education, and pay for overall promotion of organics.
- If successful, the Check-off Board would be made up of 50% producers and 50% handlers, with regional representatives selected through direct balloting.
Commodities ranging from dairy, pork and eggs to mangoes, Christmas trees and watermelon have long had their own government-authorized check-off programs. These have funded several of the most memorable public information campaigns about those food items, including "Got Milk?" and "Pork: The Other White Meat." Dairy has had a check-off program since 1983, while the processed raspberry check-off was created more recently, in 2012.
The 2014 Farm Bill authorized the creation of an organic check-off program, and could bring big changes for the organics industry as well. The federal check-off board would not only better promote organics, but should also assist more farmers interested in transitioning over to organics to make the change.
This will help bolster supply and meet growing consumer demand for organic foods. The global organic food market is expected to increase 14% from 2016 to 2021, according to a TechSci Research news release.
This is the second big step in the last week that could expand production and marketing of organic food. The USDA also announced a new certification for farmland that is transitioning to organic. This allows farmers to sell their crops at a higher price while undergoing the process to become fully organic, which is expensive and takes three years.
Follow Keith Loria on Twitter