Promotion board for organic food can save more family farms and educate more organic consumers.

The USDA public comment period is open until March 20, 2017.

Organic Valley, the nation’s largest cooperative of organic family farmers, today welcomed the USDA’s notice and public comment period on a proposed research and promotion board for organic food. Commonly called an “organic checkoff,” the program would be funded through a small assessment on the organic sales of organic certificate holders, including farmers, handlers, processors and retailers. Assessments would be pooled together and focused on accomplishing organic-specific research, promotion and education.

“Organic agriculture is a proven market-driven economic engine for rural development and family farms,” said Organic Valley CEO George Siemon. “A self-funded promotion program for all involved in organic is a natural step toward building a strong marketplace for more farmers and consumers. Investing in our movement is just smart business.”

Siemon acknowledges that checkoff programs have a controversial history with farmers, but he points out that features of the GRO Organic proposal are unique. “This promotion order will support a variety of organic commodities—not just one, like milk or pork. And it will be funded not just by farmers but by everyone in the value chain. For me, this is an easy choice. It’s a small investment we collectively make to take the organic movement to the next level.”

Organic Valley’s board of directors, made up of seven farmer-members of the cooperative, issued the following statement in support of the Promotion Order:

“We’ve seen the way education changes people’s relationship with their food. When people understand what the organic label means, they understand it means a lot. We owe it to ourselves to promote the organic label and the organic promotion board is a good collective way to do it. Nobody understands better than Organic Valley the importance of working together for the common good. This checkoff brings everyone in the organic movement together to protect and promote our markets. Organic Valley’s board of directors encourages all of our 2,000 farmers to consider endorsing the proposal.”

Organic Valley’s management and board of directors welcome the opportunity to openly discuss the benefits of expanding organic food availability and options as well as safeguarding family farms and markets in a volatile global environment. The co-op urges the entire organic community to join together in support of the promotion order. Organic Valley is well known for being a democratically governed cooperative of 2,000 farmer-owners in 36 states, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Learn more about the Organic Checkoff from GRO Organic, the official page of the promotion order campaign, and the Organic Trade Association.