Whether it’s commenting on a Facebook post, calls to local representatives or voting for the “best” celebrity dancer, Americans are not shy about sharing their opinions. As it begins a new industry-funded research and promotion program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is hoping that holds true as it recently requested public comment for the proposed Organic Research, Promotion and Information Order.

The program is proposed to cover certified organic products and include a range of agricultural commodities, including fruits, vegetables and beverages, as well as non-food items, the USDA states. Organic imports certified under the USDA organic regulations and those entering the United States with an organic equivalency arrangement also will be covered.

The program will be designed to establish a framework to pool resources to develop new organic markets, strengthen existing markets, and conduct important research and promotion activities, the USDA states. Varying initial assessment rates will be charged to certified domestic producers, certified handlers and importers of organic products as a result of the order, which can be found on ams.usda.gov.

In response to the USDA’s announcement, The Organic Trade Association (OTA) applauded the move that will help advance the growing organic sector.

Laura Batcha, chief executive officer and executive director of OTA, stated: “This organic check-off will provide research and key tools to encourage more farmers to go organic and help all organic farmers be more successful. It will educate consumers in a positive way about what that organic seal really means. For the benefit of all of us, this proactive program will further the success of organic agriculture for the long term.”

Comments can be submitted through March 20 on regulations.gov or mailed to the Promotion and Economics Division SCP, AMS, USDA in Washington, D.C. Don’t miss your chance to weigh in on this topic