USDA Halts Plans for Organic Checkoff

May 24, 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it will not implement a research and promotion (“checkoff”) program for certified organic products.  USDA cited “lack of consensus within the industry” as its primary reason for not moving forward.

The Organic Trade Association was the main proponent of an organic checkoff, and USDA issued a proposed rule on January 18, 2017.  In addition to a lack of consensus, USDA also cited “how organic promotion would affect other agricultural commodities” in withdrawing the proposed rule.  Some comments on the rule had questioned whether it was possible to promote organic products without disparaging conventional products.  Disparagement is generally prohibited under USDA’s rules for checkoffs.