National Farmers Union has submitted a partial proposal for an organic commodity checkoff program to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The proposal provides for a majority of checkoff funds to go toward agricultural research, a producer majority on the board, and an inclusive checkoff that allows all organic producers the ability to vote in any referendum establishing the checkoff.
“Domestic consumer demand for organic agricultural products is ever-increasing, and to date, the U.S. has had to rely on imports to meet much of that demand,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “NFU’s proposal calls for a majority of the checkoff funds to go to agricultural research to ensure consumer demands are met with American-produced organic products, as well as a board composition that has a producer majority in order to better represent the organic industry, and a democratic process that allows for each organic certificate holder to vote on whether or not the checkoff should be established.”
NFU’s proposal notes that the organic sector has had scarce resources available for organic research. It calls for 60 percent of checkoff funds to go towards agricultural research that will provide organic producers in the U.S. the information they need to keep up with the increasing demand for organic food in the U.S.
“Commodity research and promotion programs are, and always have been, intended to support the efforts of producers of agricultural commodities,” according to the proposal. “An organic checkoff must fill the gap in agricultural research and prioritize addressing the production research needs of the industry.”
The proposal also notes that board composition should be a producer majority, and provides for 13 members of the 19-member board to be organic producers in order to properly represent the organic industry.
“The board would have considerable oversight of the checkoff dollars, including 25 percent for discretionary purposes,” notes the proposal. “Board composition is of tremendous importance to NFU and should constitute a significant producer majority.”