OFRF Position Statement on (a potential) Research and Promotion Order for Organic Products:
Whereas the organic agriculture community is currently debating the possibility of establishing a Research and Promotion Order (RPO) for organic (food) products, as a distinct commodity class; and
Whereas the OFRF is a leading voice of and for organic farmers and ranchers; and
Whereas the OFRF is the leading advocate for organic research;
The OFRF recognizes the potential of an organic RPO to provide funding for much-needed research to advance and improve organic farming methods and practices.
The OFRF further recognizes the need for promotion of (the multiple benefits of) organic agriculture and food products in order to “grow the market” for organic food products and enhance the opportunities for organic farmers.
While recognizing the (potential) benefits of an RPO, USDA-administered RPO’s have varied records of success in delivering benefits to the producers of commodities. Given the varied records of USDA-administered RPO’s, the OFRF has the following concerns:
- All certified organic farmers must have the ability to vote on the establishment of an RPO, on any assessments (or change in assessments) to be levied by an RPO and, periodically, on the continuance on the RPO;
- An organic RPO must include majority representation of certified organic farmers on the governing board;
- Assessments for an organic RPO must capture all levels of the “value-chain,” from production through retail, without undue burden on any segment (particularly organic farmers);
- Research and promotion supported by an RPO must directly benefit organic farmers by supporting improved organic farming systems and by increasing the market (price or volume demanded) at the farm level;
- In order to assure accountability, an RPO must measure the impact of funded projects it funds and publish the results every two years; and
Administrative costs of an organic RPO must not exceed 10% of funds assessed by the RPO.
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