[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 241 (Tuesday, December 16, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 75005-75030]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-29280]



[[Page 75005]]

Vol. 79

Tuesday,

No. 241

December 16, 2014

Part VI





Department of Agriculture





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Agicultural Marketing Service





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7 CFR Parts 900, 1150, 1160, et al.





Exemption of Organic Products from Assessment Under a Commodity 
Promotion Law; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 79 , No. 241 / Tuesday, December 16, 2014 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 75006]]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Parts 900, 1150, 1160, 1205, 1206, 1207, 1208, 1209, 1210, 
1212, 1214, 1215, 1216, 1217, 1218, 1219, 1220, 1221, 1222, 1230, 
1250, 1260, and 1280

[Document Number AMS-FV-14-0032]


Exemption of Organic Products From Assessment Under a Commodity 
Promotion Law

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: This proposal would modify the organic assessment exemption 
regulations under 23 Federal marketing orders and 22 research and 
promotion programs. The current regulations would be amended to allow 
persons that produce, handle, market, or import certified organic 
products to be exempt from paying assessments associated with commodity 
promotion activities, including paid advertising, conducted under a 
commodity promotion program administered by the Agricultural Marketing 
Service (AMS). The exemption would cover all ``organic'' and ``100 
percent organic'' products certified under the National Organic Program 
regardless of whether the person requesting the exemption also 
produces, handles, markets, or imports conventional or nonorganic 
products. Currently, only persons that exclusively produce and market 
products certified as 100 percent organic are eligible for an exemption 
from assessments under commodity promotion programs. The authority for 
this proposal is in section 10004 of the Agricultural Act of 2014.

DATES: Comments must be received by January 15, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments 
concerning this proposal. Comments must be sent to the Docket Clerk, 
Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, 
AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 
20250-0237; Fax: (202) 720-8938; or Internet: http://www.regulations.gov. All comments should reference the document number 
and the date and page number of this issue of the Federal Register. 
Comments will be included in the record and made available for public 
inspection in the Office of the Docket Clerk during regular business 
hours, or can be viewed at: http://www.regulations.gov. Please be 
advised that the identity of the individuals or entities submitting the 
comments will be made public on the Internet at the address provided 
above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Barry Broadbent, Senior Marketing 
Specialist, or Michelle Sharrow, Branch Chief, Marketing Order and 
Agreement Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, AMS, USDA, 1400 
Independence Avenue SW., STOP 0237, Washington, DC 20250-0237; 
Telephone: (202) 720-2491, Fax: (202) 720-8938; or email: 
Barry.Broadbent@ams.usda.gov, or Michelle.Sharrow@ams.usda.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The authority for this proposed rule is 
specified in section 10004 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (2014 Farm 
Bill) (Pub. L. 113-79). On February 7, 2014, the 2014 Farm Bill amended 
Section 501 of the Federal Agriculture Improvement and Reform Act of 
1996 (FAIR Act) (7 U.S.C. 7401), which established certain provisions 
for generic commodity promotion programs created under the various 
commodity promotion laws. Section 501 of the FAIR Act was previously 
amended in May 2002, by Section 10607 of the Farm Security and Rural 
Investment Act (2002 Farm Bill) (Pub. L. 107-171) to exempt persons 
that produced and marketed solely 100 percent organic products, and who 
did not otherwise produce or market any conventional or nonorganic 
products, from the payment of an assessment for commodity promotion 
activities under a commodity promotion law.
    Section 10004 of the 2014 Farm Bill subsequently expanded the 
organic assessment exemption to apply to any agricultural commodity 
that is certified as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' as defined 
by the National Organic Program (NOP) (7 CFR part 205). The amendment 
further requires the Secretary of Agriculture to promulgate regulations 
concerning the eligibility and compliance procedures necessary to 
implement the exemption. Consistent with that provision of the 2014 
Farm Bill, the proposed exemption covers all certified ``organic'' or 
``100 percent organic'' products of a producer, handler, first handler, 
marketer, or importer regardless of whether the agricultural commodity 
subject to the exemption is produced, handled, marketed, or imported by 
a person that also produces, handles, markets, or imports conventional 
or nonorganic agricultural products, including conventional or 
nonorganic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed.

Executive Order 12866, Executive Order 13563, and Executive Order 13175

    The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is issuing this proposed rule 
with regard to marketing orders in conformance with Executive Orders 
12866, 13563, and 13175.
    With regard to research and promotion programs, Executive Orders 
12866 and 13563 direct agencies to assess all costs and benefits of 
available regulatory alternatives and, if regulation is necessary, to 
select regulatory approaches that maximize net benefits (including 
potential economic, environmental, public health and safety effects, 
distributive impacts, and equity). Executive Order 13563 emphasizes the 
importance of quantifying both costs and benefits, reducing costs, 
harmonizing rules, and promoting flexibility. This action has been 
designated as a ``non-significant regulatory action'' under section 
3(f) of Executive Order 12866. Accordingly, the Office of Management 
and Budget has waived the review process.
    Additionally, with regard to research and promotion programs, this 
action has been reviewed in accordance with the requirements of 
Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal 
Governments. The review reveals that this regulation would not have 
substantial and direct effects on Tribal governments and would not have 
significant Tribal implications.

Executive Order 12988

Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect.

Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
Section 11 of the Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 
2910) provides that it shall not preempt or supersede any other program 
relating to beef promotion organized and operated under the laws of the 
United States or any State.

Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
Section 524 of the Commodity Promotion, Research,

[[Page 75007]]

and Information Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 7423) provides that it shall not 
affect or preempt any other Federal or State law authorizing promotion 
or research relating to an agricultural commodity.

Cotton Research and Promotion Act of 1966

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. The proposed rule is not intended to have 
retroactive effect.

Dairy Production Stabilization Act of 1983

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. The proposed rule is not intended to have 
retroactive effect. Section 1221 of the Dairy Production Stabilization 
Act of 1983 provides that nothing in this Act may be construed to 
preempt or supersede any other program relating to dairy product 
promotion organized and operated under the laws of the United States or 
any State.

Egg Research and Consumer Information Act of 1974

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. The proposed rule is not intended to have 
retroactive effect.

Fluid Milk Promotion Act of 1990

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. The proposed rule is not intended to have 
retroactive effect.

Hass Avocado Promotion, Research and Information Act of 2000

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
Section 1212(c) of the Hass Avocado Promotion, Research and Information 
Act of 2000 (7 U.S.C. 7811) provides that nothing in this Act may be 
construed to preempt or supersede any program relating to Hass avocado 
promotion, research, industry information, and consumer information 
organized and operated under the laws of the United States or of a 
State.

Mushroom Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1990

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
Section 1930 of the Mushroom Promotion, Research, and Consumer 
Information Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6109) provides that nothing in this 
Act may be construed to preempt or supersede any other program relating 
to mushroom promotion, research, consumer information or industry 
information organized and operated under the laws of the United States 
or any State.

Popcorn Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1996

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
Section 580 of the Popcorn Promotion, Research, and Consumer 
Information Act (7 U.S.C. 7489) provides that nothing in this Act 
preempts or supersedes any other program relating to popcorn promotion 
organized and operated under the laws of the United States or any 
State.

Potato Research and Promotion Act of 1971

    This proposal has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect.

Pork Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act of 1985

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
Section 1628 of the Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information 
Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 4817) states that the statute is intended to 
occupy the field of promotion and consumer education involving pork and 
pork products and of obtaining funds thereof from pork producers. The 
regulation of such activity (other than a regulation or requirement 
relating to a matter of public health or the provision of State or 
local funds for such activity) that is in addition to or different from 
the Pork Act may not be imposed by a State.

Soybean Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act

    This proposal has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, Civil 
Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect. 
Additionally, section 1974 of the Soybean Promotion, Research, and 
Consumer Information Act (7 U.S.C. 6309) provides, with certain 
exceptions, that nothing in the Soybean Act may be construed to preempt 
or supersede any other program relating to soybean promotion, research, 
consumer information, or industry information organized under the laws 
of the United States or any State. One exception in the Soybean Act 
concerns assessments collected by Qualified State Soybean Boards 
(QSSBs). The exception provides that, to ensure adequate funding of the 
operations of QSSBs under the Soybean Act, no State law or regulation 
may limit or have the effect of limiting the full amount of assessments 
that a QSSB in that State may collect, and which is authorized to be 
credited under the Soybean Act. Another exception concerns certain 
referenda conducted during specified periods by a State relating to the 
continuation of a QSSB or State soybean assessment.

Watermelon Research and Promotion Act

    This proposed rule has been reviewed under Executive Order 12988, 
Civil Justice Reform. It is not intended to have retroactive effect.
    This proposal is issued under the 23 marketing orders and the 22 
research and promotion programs established under the following acts: 
Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 (7 U.S.C. 601-674) (AMAA); 
Beef Promotion and Research Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 2901-2911); Commodity 
Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 7411-7425); 
Cotton Research and Promotion Act of 1966 (7 U.S.C. 2101-2118); Dairy 
Production Stabilization Act of 1983 (7 U.S.C. 4501-4514); Egg Research 
and Consumer Information Act of 1974 (7 U.S.C. 2701-2718); Fluid Milk 
Promotion Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6401-6417); Hass Avocado Promotion, 
Research, and Information Act of 2000 (7 U.S.C. 7801-7813); Mushroom 
Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6101-6112); Popcorn Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act 
of 1996 (7 U.S.C. 7481-7491); Pork Promotion, Research, and Consumer 
Information Act of 1985 (7 U.S.C. 4801-4819); Potato Research and 
Promotion Act of 1971 (7 U.S.C. 2611-2627); Soybean Promotion, 
Research, and Consumer Information Act (7 U.S.C. 6301-6311); and 
Watermelon Research and Promotion Act (7 U.S.C. 4901-4916). These acts 
are collectively referred to as ``commodity promotion laws.''
    The preceding acts provide that administrative proceedings must be 
exhausted before parties may file suit in court. Under those acts, any 
person subject to an order may file a petition with the Secretary of 
Agriculture stating that the order, any provision of the order, or any 
obligation imposed in connection with the order is not in accordance 
with law and request a modification of the order or to be exempted 
therefrom. The petitioner is afforded the opportunity for a hearing on 
the petition. After the hearing, the Secretary will make a ruling on 
the petition. The acts provide that the district courts of the United 
States in any district in which the person is an

[[Page 75008]]

inhabitant, or has his principal place of business, has the 
jurisdiction to review the Secretary's rule, provided a complaint is 
filed within 20 days from the date of the entry of the ruling. There 
are no administrative proceedings that must be exhausted prior to any 
judicial challenge to the provision of the Beef Promotion and Research 
Act of 1985.

Proposed Rule

    USDA is proposing revisions to the general regulations affecting 
the 23 marketing order programs established under the AMAA. In 
addition, USDA is proposing similar amendments to the orders and/or 
rules and regulations of the 22 research and promotion programs. USDA 
is proposing the termination of existing provisions in Sec.  1209.52 of 
the mushroom research and promotion order that are not consistent with 
proposed amendments to the order's organic assessment exemption 
provisions contained in Sec.  1209.252. The proposed termination of 
Sec.  1209.52(a)(2) and (a)(3) is authorized by Sec.  1209.71(a) of the 
order. While the existing organic exemption provisions would terminate 
in Sec.  1209.52 of the order, a revised organic exemption provision is 
proposed in section Sec.  1209.252(a)(2) of the regulations.
    Consistent with the provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, the proposed 
modifications would amend current regulatory provisions that exempt 
organic producers, handlers, first handlers, marketers, and importers 
from the payment of promotion program assessments used to fund 
commodity promotion activities, including paid advertising, under a 
commodity promotion law.

Marketing Order Programs

    The FAIR Act organic exemption amendment, as enacted by the 2014 
Farm Bill, covers 23 marketing order programs established under the 
AMAA (Florida citrus--7 CFR part 905; Texas citrus--7 CFR part 906; 
Florida avocados--7 CFR part 915; Washington apricots--7 CFR part 922; 
Washington sweet cherries--7 CFR part 923; Southeastern California 
grapes--7 CFR part 925; Oregon/Washington pears--7 CFR part 927; 
Cranberries grown in the States of Massachusetts, et al.--7 CFR part 
929; Tart cherries grown in the States of Michigan, et al.--7 CFR part 
930; California olives--7 CFR part 932; Colorado potatoes--7 CFR part 
948; Georgia Vidalia onions--7 CFR part 955; Washington/Oregon Walla 
Walla onions--7 CFR part 956; Idaho-Eastern Oregon onions--7 CFR part 
958; Texas onions--7 CFR part 959; Florida tomatoes--7 CFR part 966; 
California almonds--7 CFR part 981; Oregon-Washington hazelnuts--7 CFR 
part 982; California walnuts--7 CFR part 984; Far West spearmint oil--7 
CFR part 985; California dates--7 CFR part 987; California raisins--7 
CFR part 989; and California dried prunes--7 CFR part 993).
    Federal marketing orders are locally administered by committees 
made up of producers and/or handlers, and often members of the public. 
Marketing order regulations, initiated by industry and enforced by 
USDA, bind the entire industry in the geographical area regulated once 
they are approved by the Secretary of Agriculture. Marketing orders 
employ one or more of the following authorities: (1) Maintain the high 
quality of produce available to the market; (2) standardize packages 
and containers; (3) regulate the flow of product to market; (4) 
establish reserve pools for storable commodities; and (5) authorize 
production research, marketing research and development, and 
advertising. Each unique marketing order helps to promote orderly 
marketing for the specific commodity and region covered by the 
regulation.
    The 23 specific marketing order programs listed above allow for 
market promotion activities designed to assist, improve, or promote the 
marketing, distribution, or consumption of the commodity covered under 
each specific marketing order. Some of these programs also authorize 
market promotion in the form of paid advertising. Promotion activities, 
including paid advertising, are paid for by assessments levied on 
handlers regulated under the various marketing orders.
    Rules of practice and regulations governing all marketing orders 
established under the AMAA are contained in 7 CFR part 900 General 
Regulations. Section 900.700 specifies the criteria for identifying 
persons eligible to obtain an assessment exemption for marketing 
promotion activities, including paid advertising; procedures for 
persons to apply for an exemption; procedures for calculating the 
assessment exemption; and other procedural details pertaining to the 23 
marketing order programs that currently engage in, or have the 
authority for, marketing promotion, including paid advertising.
    Currently under those provisions, only handlers that exclusively 
handle or market products that are eligible to be labeled ``100 percent 
organic'' are exempt from the portion of a marketing order assessment 
applicable to an order's marketing promotion activities, including paid 
advertising. As such, organic handlers who handle or market any 
quantity of conventional or nonorganic products in addition to their 
organic products are not currently able to claim an assessment 
exemption on any of the products they handle. The 2014 Farm Bill 
expanded the organic exemption in the FAIR Act to allow all organic 
handlers to apply for an exemption from assessments on products 
certified as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic,'' regardless of 
whether the handler also handles or markets conventional or nonorganic 
products (hereafter referred to as a ``split operation'').
    This proposal would modify the organic assessment exemption 
eligibility criteria contained in Sec.  900.700. The requirements 
contained in that section would be revised to allow organic operations 
that are split operations to apply for and receive an assessment 
exemption on their organic products, whereas such types of operations 
are explicitly precluded from the organic assessment exemption under 
the current language. More specifically, the eligibility provisions 
contained in Sec.  900.700(b) would be modified to include certified 
organic handlers that maintain split operations. The section would also 
be amended to provide that exempt handlers must continue to pay 
assessments associated with any agricultural products that do not 
qualify for an exemption under that section.
    Handlers who wish to claim the assessment exemption on their 
organic products would continue to be required to submit an application 
to the marketing order board or committee, and subsequently be approved 
by that body, to qualify for the organic exemption. However, as a 
result of the revised eligibility requirements as proposed herein, some 
of the information collection previously necessary for the board or 
committee to administer the organic assessment exemption would no 
longer be required moving forward. As such, Sec.  900.700(c) would be 
modified to require less documentation from the handler with regards to 
the type and scope of their operation when they apply for an organic 
assessment exemption.

Research and Promotion Programs

    The FAIR Act organic exemption amendment contained in the 2014 Farm 
Bill also covers 22 research and promotion programs established under 
either freestanding legislation (beef, cotton, dairy, eggs, fluid milk, 
Hass avocados, mushrooms, popcorn, pork, potatoes, soybeans, and 
watermelons) or the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act 
of 1996

[[Page 75009]]

(blueberries, Christmas trees, honey, lamb, mangoes, paper and paper-
based products, peanuts, processed raspberries, softwood lumber, and 
sorghum).
    Wholly funded and operated by industry, the research and promotion 
programs are charged with creating, maintaining, and expanding markets 
for the agricultural commodities they represent. While these programs 
are overseen by AMS, including review of all financial budgets, 
marketing plans, and research projects, they are governed by boards and 
councils made up of industry participants. Producers, handlers, 
processors, importers, and/or others in the marketing chain pay 
assessments to the representative boards and councils to fund each 
program's activities. Industries voluntarily request the formation of 
these programs, which allows them to establish, finance, and execute 
coordinated programs of research, producer and consumer education, and 
generic commodity promotion to improve, maintain, and develop markets 
for their respective commodities.
    Under this proposal, the eligibility criteria for obtaining an 
organic assessment exemption, as contained in each of the research and 
promotion orders, plans, and/or regulations, would be revised. The 
requirements for such an exemption would be modified to allow split 
organic operations to apply for and receive an assessment exemption on 
their organic products, whereas such types of operations are explicitly 
precluded from the assessment exemption under the current provisions in 
each program. In addition, language would be added to provide that 
exempt producers, handlers, marketers, or importers must continue to 
pay any assessments associated with any agricultural products that do 
not qualify for an exemption. Persons who wish to claim the assessment 
exemption on their organic products would continue to be required to 
submit an application to the board or council, and subsequently be 
approved, to qualify for the organic exemption. However, as a result of 
the revised eligibility requirements proposed herein, some of the 
information collection that is currently necessary for the board or 
council to administer the organic assessment exemption would no longer 
be required moving forward. As such, the section of each order, plan, 
or regulation that specifies the information collection requirements 
for the organic assessment exemption would be modified to require less 
documentation from the applicant with regards to the type and scope of 
their operation.

Who is eligible for exemption under a marketing order?

    This proposed rule would modify the eligibility requirements for 
organic assessment exemptions that are currently in place for marketing 
order programs. Under this proposed action, persons who are subject to 
an assessment under a designated marketing order, who maintain a valid 
organic certificate, and who handle any assessable agricultural 
commodities that are certified as ``organic'' or ``100 percent 
organic'' (as defined in the NOP) would be eligible for the organic 
assessment exemption under amended requirements in part 900.
    All of the 23 marketing orders impacted by this proposed rule 
assess only handlers (i.e., persons that handle the regulated 
commodity) to fund the operations of the respective programs. Under the 
current organic assessment exemption regulation, which was promulgated 
as a result of the provisions in the 2002 Farm Bill that amended the 
FAIR Act, to qualify for an exemption from a commodity promotion 
assessment, a person--meaning an individual, group of individuals, 
corporation, association, cooperative, or other business entity--must 
``produce and market'' solely 100 percent organic products, and must 
not also produce or market any conventional or nonorganic products. For 
the purpose of that regulation, ``produce'' was defined as to grow or 
produce food, feed, livestock, or fiber or to receive food, feed, 
livestock, or fiber and alter that product by means of feeding, 
slaughtering, or processing. USDA determined that handlers, processors 
and producers acting as handlers, and importers were also eligible for 
exemption if any of their activities met the definition of ``produce'' 
as outlined above. Additionally, the regulation only provided for 
granting organic assessment exemptions to persons that handle domestic 
commodities regulated under marketing orders and not importers, as 
importers regulated under section 608e of the AMAA (7 U.S.C. 608e-
1)(section 8e) do not pay assessments. Therefore, importers are not 
eligible for an organic assessment exemption under part 900.
    The 2002 Farm Bill amended the FAIR Act to make organic assessment 
exemptions available to any person that ``produces and markets'' 
organic products, should they also conform to certain other criteria. 
This proposed rule would incorporate the broadened eligibility criteria 
established by the 2014 Farm Bill amendment to the FAIR Act into the 
regulations. Importers of commodities covered by section 8e of the 
Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937 would remain ineligible 
for an exemption as importers do not pay assessments under marketing 
order programs.
    In addition, the FAIR Act amendment also expanded eligibility to 
cover split organic operations. The requirement that operations be 
``solely'' 100 percent organic was replaced with the requirement that 
operations maintain a ``valid organic certificate'' issued under the 
Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and 
the NOP. Handlers who handle certified ``organic'' and/or ``100 percent 
organic'' products would qualify for an organic assessment exemption 
regardless of whether the commodity subject to the exemption is handled 
by a person that also handles conventional or nonorganic agricultural 
products of the same commodity as that for which the exemption is 
claimed.

Examples

    For all examples, assume that the person that handles or markets a 
commodity regulated under a marketing order is otherwise obligated to 
pay assessments under that order and that 60 percent of the marketing 
order's budgeted expenses are attributed to market promotion 
activities, including paid advertising:
     A handler who handles all of their volume as certified 
``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' product (received from certified 
organic producers), and maintains a valid organic certificate under the 
NOP, would be eligible for an organic assessment exemption. The handler 
would be exempt from 100 percent of the portion of the marketing order 
assessment attributed to marketing promotion activities (60 percent). 
The handler would be obligated to pay 40 percent of the assessment rate 
on 100 percent of the product handled. The assessment calculation would 
be: Quantity handled x 40 percent of the assessment rate.
     A handler who handles 20 percent of their volume as 
certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' product (received from 
certified organic producers) and maintains a valid organic certificate 
under the NOP would be eligible for an organic assessment exemption. 
The handler would be exempt from the portion of the marketing order 
assessment attributed to marketing promotion activities (60 percent) on 
the quantity of the products handled that are organic (20 percent). 
Conversely, the handler would be obligated to pay 40 percent of the 
assessment rate on 20

[[Page 75010]]

percent of the product handled and 100 percent of the assessment rate 
on 80 percent of the product handled. The assessment calculation would 
be: (Quantity handled x 20 percent x 40 percent of the assessment rate) 
+ (quantity handled x 80 percent x assessment rate).
     A handler who handles 20 percent of their volume as 
``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' received from certified organic 
producers, but does NOT maintain a valid organic certificate under the 
NOP, would NOT be eligible for any exemption of their marketing order 
assessments as they do not have proper certification. The handler would 
be obligated to pay 100 percent of the assessment associated with the 
quantity of product handled.
     An importer who imports a commodity that is subject to 
import regulation under section 8e would NOT be eligible for an 
exemption from marketing order assessments as importers are not 
obligated to pay assessments under a marketing order or the import 
regulations.

Who is eligible for exemption under a research and promotion program?

    Just as for marketing orders, this proposed rule would modify the 
eligibility requirements for organic assessment exemptions that are 
currently in place for research and promotion programs. Under this 
proposed action, persons who are subject to an assessment under a 
designated research and promotion program, who maintain a valid organic 
certificate, and who handle any assessable agricultural commodities 
that are certified as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' (as 
defined in the NOP) would be eligible for an organic assessment 
exemption under amended requirements contained in each of the programs' 
respective orders, plans, or regulations. Persons who are importing 
organic products in compliance with a U.S. equivalency arrangement 
established by NOP pursuant to OFPA and the NOP regulations would also 
be eligible for an organic assessment exemption.
    For the 22 research and promotion programs currently enacted, 16 
assess producers, 2 assess handlers, 2 assess manufacturers, and 2 
assess processors. Under the provisions for each of the respective 
programs, many also assess other entities, in addition to the named 
classes, including importers, exporters, feeders, and seed stock 
producers. Any of the entities obligated to pay assessments under one 
of the aforementioned programs is eligible for an organic assessment 
exemption.
    Under the current regulation, organic assessment exemptions are 
available to any person who ``produces or markets solely 100 percent 
organic products'' and conforms to certain requirements. As mentioned 
previously, the recent amendment to the FAIR Act expands the organic 
assessment exemption eligibility to any person that ``produces, 
handles, markets, or imports'' organic products under a ``valid organic 
certificate'' issued under the OFPA and the NOP. This proposed rule 
would remove the ``solely 100 percent organic'' requirement currently 
in the regulations and allow split operations to request an organic 
assessment exemption for all products that qualify as certified 
``organic'' and ``100 percent organic.'' Also, just as for marketing 
orders, ``person'' will continue to mean any individual, group of 
individuals, corporation, association, cooperative, or other business 
entity engaged in any of the aforementioned activities.

Examples

    For all examples, assume that the person produces, handles, 
processes, or imports a commodity regulated under a research and 
promotion program and is otherwise obligated to pay assessments under 
that order:
     A producer who maintains a valid organic certificate under 
the NOP and markets 100 percent of the products they produce as 
certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' would be eligible for 
an organic exemption on 100 percent of the quantity produced.
     A handler who maintains a valid organic certificate under 
the NOP and handles 20 percent of the products they handle as certified 
``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' products would be eligible for 
an organic exemption on 20 percent of the total quantity they handle. 
Conversely, the handler would continue to be obligated to pay the full 
assessment on the 80 percent of the total quantity they handle that is 
not ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic.'' The assessment calculation 
would be: quantity produced x 80 percent x assessment rate.
     A processor who processes 20 percent of their volume as 
``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' products received from certified 
organic producers, but does NOT maintain a valid organic certificate 
under the NOP, would NOT be eligible for any exemption of their 
assessment obligation as they are NOT a certified handling operation. 
The processor would be obligated to pay 100 percent of the assessment 
associated with the quantity of product they processed and marketed.
     An importer who maintains a valid organic certificate 
under the NOP and markets the products that they import as organic 
products, but the producers of the products are NOT certified under the 
NOP, would be eligible for an organic assessment exemption if the 
product is certified as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under a 
U.S. equivalency arrangement established under the NOP.

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

    In accordance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) (5 U.S.C. 
601-612), AMS is required to examine the impact of this proposed rule 
on small entities. The purpose of the RFA is to fit regulatory actions 
to the scale of businesses subject to such actions in order that small 
businesses will not be unduly or disproportionately burdened. 
Accordingly, AMS has considered the economic impact of this action on 
small entities and has prepared this initial regulatory flexibility 
analysis.

Analysis of Marketing Order Programs

    Marketing orders issued pursuant to the AMAA, and the rules issued 
thereunder, are unique in that they are brought about through group 
action of essentially small entities acting on their own behalf.
    Assessments under marketing order programs are paid by the handlers 
regulated under each of the marketing orders. There are approximately 
950 handlers regulated under the 23 Federal marketing orders with 
market promotion authority (there are 28 marketing orders total--5 do 
not have authority for market promotion activities). Currently, only 10 
entities handle or market solely 100 percent organic products and claim 
exemptions from paying assessments for market promotion activities, 
including paid advertising, under the assessment exemption regulations 
contained in Sec.  900.700. USDA believes that as many as 20 percent of 
the entities handling agricultural products under the various marketing 
orders (approximately 190 firms) may handle some quantity of organic 
products, but do not qualify for an assessment exemption under the 
current regulations.
    Small agricultural service firms are defined by the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) as those having annual receipts of less than 
$7,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those 
having annual receipts of less than $750,000 (13 CFR 121.201). All of 
the entities currently approved for an organic assessment exemption 
under the marketing order programs would be

[[Page 75011]]

classified by SBA as small agricultural service firms. In addition, 
although the exact number of potential applicants is unknown, USDA 
believes that many of the entities that would become eligible for an 
organic assessment exemption as a result of this proposed action may 
also be classified as small firms under the SBA classification.
    As previously mentioned, Section 501 of the FAIR Act was amended by 
the 2002 Farm Bill to exempt persons that produced and marketed solely 
100 percent organic products, and were not split operations, from the 
payment of an assessment for commodity promotion activities under a 
commodity promotion law. The amendment required the Secretary to 
promulgate regulations with regard to the eligibility and compliance of 
such organic assessment exemptions. AMS subsequently added Sec.  
900.700 to the General Regulations (7 CFR part 900) governing marketing 
orders to establish the criteria and procedure for obtaining an organic 
assessment exemption.
    On February 7, 2014, the FAIR Act was again amended by the 2014 
Farm Bill to broaden the eligibility criteria for receiving an organic 
assessment exemption under a commodity promotion program. Specifically, 
the 2014 Farm Bill amendment to the FAIR Act exempts persons that 
produce, handle, market, or import products certified as ``organic'' or 
``100 percent organic'' from payment of assessments under a commodity 
promotion program. The exemption applies regardless of whether a 
producer, handler, marketer, or importer also produces, handles, 
markets, or imports conventional or nonorganic products. The statute 
further requires the Secretary to promulgate regulations under each of 
the commodity promotion programs to implement the amendment.
    As required, USDA is proposing amendments to the general 
regulations that would affect 23 of the 28 Federal marketing orders 
that have authority for market promotion, including paid advertising. 
These amendments would modify the current provisions and broaden the 
eligibility for organic handling operations to become exempt from 
paying assessments on the certified ``organic'' and ``100 percent 
organic'' products that they handle, regardless of whether the handler 
is a split operation.
    The 23 marketing order programs affected by this proposed rule 
allow for promotion activities designed to assist, improve, and promote 
the marketing, distribution, or consumption of the commodities covered 
under the marketing orders. Some of the orders also include authority 
for paid advertising. Expenses necessary to administer the programs are 
paid for by assessments levied on handlers regulated under the various 
marketing orders. Market promotion activities, including paid 
advertising, are only one component of each marketing order's 
regulatory scheme. The assessment exemption for organic products, as 
currently implemented and as proposed going forward, only applies to 
the portion of a marketing order assessment that is associated with 
market promotion activities, including paid advertising. All handlers 
subject to regulation under a marketing order are obligated to pay the 
portion of the assessment that is not directly related to market 
promotion, including paid advertising. This includes handlers who are 
granted an organic assessment exemption.
    Under this proposal, Sec.  900.700 would be amended to broaden the 
criteria for persons eligible to obtain an assessment exemption for 
marketing promotion, including paid advertising; streamline the 
procedure for applying for an exemption; modify the procedure for 
calculating the assessment exemption; and revise other procedural 
details necessary to effectuate the 2014 Farm Bill amendment. These 
changes would allow more handlers to qualify for an organic assessment 
exemption than are presently eligible under the current regulations.
    Regarding the impact on affected entities under a marketing order, 
this proposed rule would impose minimal costs incurred in filing the 
exemption application and in maintaining records needed to verify the 
applicant's exemption status during the period that the entity is 
exempt. Under the proposed revisions, applicants would still be 
required to submit an application for exemption on Form FV-649 and 
receive approval from the applicable board or committee to obtain the 
assessment exemption. However, the eligibility criteria would be 
broadened and the amount of documentation required of an applicant 
would be reduced, thus reducing the burden on entities who wish to 
participate. Applicants would continue to submit one application 
annually. The annual burden associated with requests for organic 
assessment exemptions for all of the marketing order industries is 
estimated to total 47.5 hours (190 applicants x 15 minutes) (see the 
Paperwork Reduction Act section below for greater explanation of the 
information collection and recordkeeping burden).
    The total estimated cost burden associated with the information 
collection is estimated to be $712, or $3.75 per applicant. The total 
cost was estimated by multiplying the expected burden hours associated 
with the organic exemption application (47.5 hours) by $15.00 per hour, 
a sum deemed reasonable should an applicant be compensated for their 
time.
    During the 2012-2013 marketing season, assessments for all 
marketing orders totaled approximately $89,700,000. Of that amount, 
about $58,300,000 (or 65 percent) was made available for marketing 
promotion activities, including paid advertising. While there is not 
enough information to generate a reasonable estimate, USDA believes 
about two percent, on average, of the total assessments are for 
commodities that are certified organic. Thus, assessments on organic 
commodities might have totaled as much as $1,794,000 (2 percent of 
$89,700,000). That total might be reduced moving forward by $1,166,000 
(65 percent of $1,794,000--the portion of the assessments made 
available for marketing activities) if all of the approximately 190 
handlers that USDA believes may be eligible were to apply to the 
respective board or committee and be approved for an organic assessment 
exemption under the proposed regulations.
    There are approximately 10 handlers that are approved for organic 
assessment exemptions under the current regulation, with a total 
exempted amount of approximately $135,000. The current exemption 
averages approximately $13,500 per handler. Based on the estimate that 
190 handlers might be exempt from assessments under the proposed 
criteria, and an estimated $1,166,000 of potential exemptions, USDA 
estimates that exempted organic handlers may average $6,136 in 
decreased assessments. This amount is less than half of the current 
average. However, the revised eligibility requirements, as proposed 
herein, would be expected to attract more handlers than under the 
current regulations. Many of those handlers may be small entities or 
may only handle a small percentage of organic products relative to the 
total amount of product handled.
    There is some variation among the 23 marketing orders on the 
percent of assessments used for market promotion activities, including 
paid advertising. Thus, the actual reduction in assessments would 
differ among the various marketing orders. In fact, the amounts 
allocated for marketing promotion activities as a percentage of the 
total marketing order budgets range from less than 5 percent to almost 
95

[[Page 75012]]

percent. As such, the financial impact of this proposal to each handler 
individually, and to each of the 23 distinct marketing order programs 
collectively, cannot be accurately estimated. However, several of the 
affected marketing order programs do expect to see large reductions in 
assessment revenue moving forward. The Oregon-Washington Fresh Pear 
Committee anticipates a $362,718 reduction is assessments, the 
California Almond Board expects a reduction of $298,000, and the 
California Raisin Administrative Committee expects a reduction of 
$180,000 as a result of the expanded eligibility for organic assessment 
exemptions. Should this rule be implemented, these boards and 
committees would have to adjust programs and reduce budgeted expenses 
accordingly.
    Since this proposed action has the potential to exempt agricultural 
handling entities from assessments, AMS believes that this rule would 
have a net beneficial economic impact on exempted firms. The additional 
burden associated with the additional information collection would be 
more than offset by reduced assessment obligations. The benefits for 
this proposed rule are not expected to be disproportionately greater or 
less for smaller entities than for larger entities regulated under any 
of the 23 marketing order programs.

Analysis of Research and Promotion Programs

    Research and promotion programs established under the various 
commodity promotion acts, and the rules and regulations issued 
thereunder, are like marketing orders in that they are uniquely brought 
about through group action of essentially small entities acting on 
their own behalf.
    Producers, handlers, first handlers, processors, importers, 
exporters, feeders, and seed stock producers pay assessments to the 
national boards and councils that administer the various commodity 
research and promotion programs, or in some cases to other parties 
designated by a board or council to collect assessments. The number of 
entities paying assessments under each of the research and promotion 
programs varies considerably. For example, the mango program receives 
assessments from approximately 198 handlers and importers, while the 
beef program receives assessments from nearly 1 million producers.
    As mentioned previously, small agricultural service firms are 
defined by the SBA as those having annual receipts of less than 
$7,000,000, and small agricultural producers are defined as those 
having annual receipts of less than $750,000. Many of the handlers, 
importers, exporters, feeders, and seed stock producers currently 
approved for organic assessment exemptions under the research and 
promotion programs would be classified by SBA as small agricultural 
service firms. In addition, most of the producers currently approved 
for exemptions would also be classified as small agricultural 
producers. The exact number and size of the potential applicants that 
would be eligible for an assessment exemption as a result of this 
proposal is not known. The current and estimated number of respondents 
filing exemption claims appears later in this discussion; however, USDA 
believes that many of the entities that would become eligible for an 
organic assessment exemption under the proposed changes may also be 
classified as small firms and/or small producers under the SBA 
classification.
    This proposed rule was initiated as a result of amendments to the 
FAIR Act contained in the 2014 Farm Bill. This rule would modify the 
current organic assessment exemption regulations under each of the 22 
research and promotion programs to revise the eligibility criteria for 
obtaining an organic assessment exemption. As proposed, entities that 
produce, handle, market, or import organic products may be exempt from 
the payment of an assessment under a commodity promotion law with 
respect to any agricultural commodity that is certified as ``organic'' 
or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP. The exemption would apply to 
the certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' products 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced, handled, marketed, or imported by a person that 
also produces, handles, or markets conventional or nonorganic 
agricultural products. This is a change from the current regulations, 
which only allow organic assessment exemptions for organic operations 
that produce and market solely products that are ``100 percent 
organic'' as defined under the OFPA and are not split operations.
    Under the current regulations, eligible producers, handlers, first 
handlers, processors, importers, exporters, feeders, and seed stock 
producers that wish to be exempted from assessment on their certified 
organic products must submit a request for exemption to the appropriate 
board or council on Form AMS-15. This provision would not change as a 
result of this proposed rule. However, the proposed action would reduce 
the information collection requirements for requesting an organic 
assessment exemption to reflect the revised eligibility criteria and 
would necessitate modifying Form AMS-15 to reflect the proposed 
changes. The modified form would continue to be required under the 
proposed revisions to assist the board or council in the effective 
administration of the exemption and to ensure compliance with the 
exemption requirements.
    In preparing this initial regulatory flexibility analysis, AMS has 
attempted to identify the entities that would be affected by the 
proposed rule and examine the potential impact on such entities. AMS 
has determined that this proposed rule would have very little negative 
impact on entities regulated under research and promotion programs. 
Further, the proposed changes would only impose minimal costs incurred 
in the filing of the exemption request and in maintaining records 
needed to verify the applicant's exemption status during the period 
that the entity is exempt. Under the proposed revisions, the required 
information collection burden would be reduced for entities who wish to 
initiate or perpetuate an organic assessment exemption. Applicants 
would continue to be required to submit one application annually.
    All of the entities paying assessments to the research and 
promotion programs are eligible to take advantage of the proposed rule 
changes contained herein, provided the parties elect to apply and 
otherwise comply with the exemption requirements as specified under 
each of the individual orders.
    Approximately 1,493 entities are currently approved for organic 
assessment exemptions under the 22 research and promotion programs. 
Organic assessment exemptions for the past year were approximately 
$1,400,000 for all of the programs in aggregate. In 2013, it is 
estimated that the dairy products program had the largest number of 
exemptions, with 1,150 producers exempt, and the highest dollar amount, 
with nearly 1 million dollars of assessment exemptions. Participation 
in the other programs varied. Ten of the 22 research and promotion 
programs currently do not have any entities approved for organic 
assessment exemptions.
    The estimated number of respondents filing exemption claims with 
the boards or councils after implementation of the proposed changes to 
the regulations is anticipated as follows:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                    Current    Estimated
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Beef............................................          30       2,966
Blueberries.....................................           8         204

[[Page 75013]]

 
Christmas trees.................................           0           0
Cotton..........................................           0       (\1\)
Dairy...........................................       1,150       1,823
Eggs............................................           0          20
Fluid milk......................................           0          11
Hass avocados...................................         230         771
Honey...........................................           2         327
Lamb............................................           3           7
Mangos..........................................           3          75
Mushrooms.......................................           7         246
Paper and Paper-based Packaging.................           0           0
Peanuts.........................................           0          85
Popcorn.........................................           0         170
Pork............................................           5          18
Potatoes........................................           6         904
Raspberries.....................................           0         232
Softwood lumber.................................           0           0
Sorghum.........................................          10          10
Soybeans........................................          39       1,930
Watermelons.....................................           0         412
                                                 -----------------------
    Totals......................................       1,493      10,211
------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ No estimate.

    No respondents are expected from among Christmas tree, paper and 
paper-based packaging, or softwood lumber entities, given the nature of 
their industries. In addition, several of the programs exempt smaller 
entities from assessment--fluid milk processors processing less than 3 
million pounds; egg producers owning 75,000 or fewer hens; raspberry 
producers producing less than 20,000 pounds; mushroom producers 
producing less than 500,000 pounds; honey first handlers handling less 
than 250,000 pounds; popcorn processors processing less than 4 million 
pounds; blueberry producers producing less than 2,000 pounds; and 
sorghum importers importing less than 1,000 bushels of grain or 5,000 
tons of silage. More new respondents would have been expected under 
those programs if the smaller entities were not already exempt based on 
minimum quantities.
    Under the proposed regulations, the annual burden related to 
submitting requests for organic assessment exemptions for all of the 
entities covered under the 22 research and promotion programs is 
estimated to total 2,552.75 hours (10,211 entities x 15 minutes) (see 
the Paperwork Reduction Act section for more detail). The total 
financial burden associated with the information collection for all 
industries covered by the programs is estimated to be $38,291.25, or 
$3.75 per applicant. The total cost was estimated by multiplying the 
expected burden hours associated with the exemption application 
(2,552.75 hours) by $15.00 per hour, a sum deemed reasonable should an 
applicant be compensated for their time.
    This proposed rule would allow eligible producers, handlers, first 
handlers, processors, importers, exporters, feeders, and seed stock 
producers to request an exemption from paying assessments on products 
certified as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic.'' The proposed 
changes would revise the organic exemption eligibility criteria under 
each of the research and promotion programs, thereby making the 
exemption available to more entities. The revised eligibility criteria 
are expected to increase the total number of participants as well as 
the total amount of organic assessment exemptions under each of the 
programs. The estimated total in organic assessment exemption amounts 
expected to result from revising the eligibility requirements are as 
follows:

Beef.......................................................   $2,400,000
Blueberries................................................        (\1\)
Christmas trees............................................            0
Cotton.....................................................        (\1\)
Dairy......................................................    4,190,000
Eggs.......................................................      742,500
Fluid milk.................................................    4,530,000
Hass avocados..............................................      850,000
Honey......................................................        (\1\)
Lamb.......................................................      114,000
Mangos.....................................................        (\1\)
Mushrooms..................................................      132,655
Paper and Paper-based packaging............................            0
Peanuts....................................................        6,517
Popcorn....................................................        (\1\)
Pork.......................................................      111,000
Potatoes...................................................        (\1\)
Raspberries................................................        (\1\)
Softwood lumber............................................            0
Sorghum....................................................      122,500
Soybeans...................................................      427,800
Watermelons................................................        (\1\)
                                                            ------------
    Total..................................................   13,626,972
 
\1\ No estimate.

    There are no estimated assessment exemption amounts for the 
Christmas tree, paper and paper-based-packaging, or softwood lumber 
programs given the nature of these industries. Some boards and councils 
were able to estimate the number of organic production and marketing 
operations within their industries; however, based upon current data, 
there is not enough information to generate a reasonable estimate of 
the potential dollar amount of organic assessment exemptions reported 
as ``no estimate.'' The boards and councils that reported ``no 
estimate'' generally represent programs that estimated small 
percentages of participation amongst their industries. Should this rule 
be implemented, these boards and committees would have to adjust 
programs and reduce budgeted expenses accordingly.
    Since this proposed action has the potential to exempt agricultural 
production, handling, and marketing entities from assessments, AMS 
believes that this rule would have a net beneficial economic impact on 
exempted firms. The additional burden associated with the additional 
information collection would be more than offset by reduced assessment 
obligations. The benefits for this proposed rule are not expected to be 
disproportionately greater or less for small producers, handlers, or 
marketers than for larger entities regulated under any of the 22 
research and promotion programs.
    To ensure that AMS is able to thoroughly assess the potential 
impact of this proposed rule on affected entities, interested parties 
are invited to submit comments, views, and opinions on the probable 
regulatory and informational impacts of this action on small entities. 
Comments may indicate the size, number, and type of entities that would 
be affected by this proposal, explain the potential effects of the 
proposed amendments on those entities, and provide any pertinent 
information and data.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44 U.S.C. 
Chapter 35), the information collection requirements have been 
previously approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under 
23 Federal marketing order programs (7 CFR parts 905, 906, 915, 922, 
923, 925, 927, 929, 930, 932, 948, 955, 956, 958, 959, 966, 981, 982, 
984, 985, 987, 989, and 993) and 22 research and promotion programs (7 
CFR parts 1150, 1160, 1205, 1206, 1207, 1208, 1209, 1210, 1212, 1214, 
1215, 1216, 1217, 1218, 1219, 1220, 1221, 1222, 1230, 1250, 1260, and 
1280). Upon publication of the final rule, AMS will submit a 
Justification for Change to OMB for the AMS-15 Exemption Application 
Form for Research and Promotion Programs, OMB No. 0581-0093 National 
Research, Promotion and Consumer Information Programs. AMS will also 
submit a Justification for Change to OMB for the FV-649 Exemption 
Application Form for Marketing Orders, OMB No. 0581-0216 Fruit and 
Vegetable Marketing Orders Certified Organic Handler Marketing 
Promotion Assessment Exemption under 23 Federal Marketing Orders. The 
Justification for Change will request approval for an increase in 
number of respondents, reduction in per response time, and an increase 
in burden hours for these two forms.
    While this proposed rule has not received the approval of USDA, it 
has been determined that it is consistent

[[Page 75014]]

with and would effectuate the purposes of the Commodity Promotion, 
Research, and Information Act of 1996, for the programs for which the 
Act is applicable.
    A 30-day comment period for the proposed rule is provided to allow 
interested persons to submit written comments on the proposed changes 
to the criteria for identifying persons eligible to obtain an 
assessment exemption for organic products and the procedural details 
for obtaining an exemption under the various commodity promotion 
programs. Thirty days is deemed appropriate because this action was 
mandated by Congress under the 2014 Farm Bill and is intended to 
provide a broader exemption to certified producers, handlers, 
marketers, feeders, seed stock producers, producers, exporters and 
importers of ``organic'' and ``100 percent organic'' products. All 
comments timely received will be considered before a final 
determination is made on this matter.

List of Subjects

7 CFR Part 900

    Administrative practice and procedure, Freedom of information, 
Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1150

    Administrative practice and procedure, Dairy products, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements, Research.

7 CFR Part 1160

    Administrative practice and procedure, Fluid milk products, 
Promotion, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1205

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Cotton, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1206

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Mango, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

7 CFR Part 1207

    Advertising, Agricultural Research, Imports, Potatoes, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1208

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Consumer 
information, Marketing agreements, Raspberry promotion, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1209

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Imports, Mushrooms, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1210

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Watermelons.

7 CFR Part 1212

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Consumer 
education, Honey and honey products, Marketing agreements, Promotion, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1214

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Christmas trees 
promotion, Consumer information, Marketing agreements, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1215

    Administrative practice and procedures, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Popcorn, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1216

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Peanuts, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1217

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Consumer 
information, Marketing agreements, Promotion, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements, Softwood lumber.

7 CFR Part 1218

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
Research, Blueberries, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1219

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Hass avocados, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1220

    Administrative practice and procedure, Agricultural research, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Soybeans and soybean 
products.

7 CFR Part 1221

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Consumer 
information, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements, Sorghum and sorghum product.

7 CFR Part 1222

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Consumer 
information, Marketing agreements, Paper and paper-based-packaging 
promotion, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1230

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Marketing agreement, Pork and pork products, Reporting and 
recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1250

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Eggs and egg products, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

7 CFR Part 1260

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Agricultural 
research, Imports, Marketing agreements, Meat and meat products, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

7 CFR Part 1280

    Administrative practice and procedure, Advertising, Lamb and lamb 
products, Marketing agreements, Reporting and recordkeeping 
requirements.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, 7 CFR parts 900, 1150, 
1160, 1205, 1206, 1207, 1208, 1209, 1210, 1212, 1214, 1215, 1216, 1217, 
1218, 1219, 1220, 1221, 1222, 1230, 1250, 1260, and 1280 are proposed 
to be amended as follows:

PART 900--GENERAL REGULATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 900 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 601-674 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
2. Revise Sec.  900.700 to read as follows:


Sec.  900.700  Exemption from assessments.

    (a) This section specifies criteria for identifying persons 
eligible to obtain an exemption from the portion of the assessment used 
to fund marketing promotion activities under a marketing order and the 
procedures for applying for such an exemption under 7 CFR parts 905, 
906, 915, 922, 923, 925, 927,

[[Page 75015]]

929, 930, 932, 948, 955, 956, 958, 959, 966, 981, 982, 984, 985, 987, 
989, 993, and such other parts (included in 7 CFR parts 905 through 
998) covering marketing orders for fruits, vegetables, and specialty 
crops as may be established or amended to include market promotion. For 
the purposes of this section, the term ``assessment period'' means 
fiscal period, fiscal year, crop year, or marketing year as defined 
under these parts; the term ``marketing promotion'' means marketing 
research and development projects or marketing promotion, including 
paid advertising designed to assist, improve, or promote the marketing, 
distribution, or consumption of the applicable commodity.
    (b) A handler who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic handling system plan and is 
subject to assessments under a part or parts specified in paragraph (a) 
of this section may be exempt from the portion of the assessment 
applicable to marketing promotion, including paid advertising, provided 
that:
    (1) Only agricultural commodities certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a handler 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is handled by a person that also handles conventional or non-
organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The handler maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 
205);
    (4) Any handler so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under such part or parts specified that are associated with 
any agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under 
this section; and
    (5) For exempted products, any handler so exempted shall be 
obligated to pay the portion of the assessment associated with the 
other authorized activities under such part or parts other than 
marketing promotion, including paid advertising.
    (c) Assessment Exemption Application. (1) To be exempt from paying 
assessments for these purposes under a part or parts listed in 
paragraph (a) of this section, the handler shall submit an application 
to the committee or board established under the applicable part or 
parts prior to or during the assessment period. This application, Form 
FV-649, ``Certified Organic Handler Application for Exemption from 
Market Promotion Assessments Paid Under Federal Marketing Orders,'' 
shall include:
    (i) The date, applicable committee or board, and Federal marketing 
order number;
    (ii) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone 
and fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (iii) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid 
certificate of organic operation under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (iv) Certification that the applicant handles or markets organic 
products eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
under the NOP;
    (v) Certification that the applicant is otherwise subject to 
assessments under the Federal marketing order program for which the 
exemption is requested;
    (vi) The number of organic certified producers for whom they handle 
or market product (including the applicant);
    (vii) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation and all applicable producer 
certificates of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited 
certifying agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (viii) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (ix) Such other information as the committee or board may require, 
with the approval of the Secretary.
    (2) The handler shall file the application with the committee or 
board, prior to or during the applicable assessment period, and 
annually thereafter, as long as the handler continues to be eligible 
for the exemption. If the person complies with the requirements of this 
section and is eligible for an assessment exemption, the committee or 
board will approve the exemption request and provide written 
notification of such to the applicant within 30 days. If the 
application is disapproved, the committee or board will provide written 
notification of the reason(s) for such disapproval within the same 
timeframe.
    (3) The exemption will apply at the beginning of the next 
assessable period following notification of approval of the assessment 
exemption, in writing, by the committee or board.
    (d) Assessment Exemption Calculation. (1) The applicable assessment 
rate for any handler approved for an exemption shall be computed by 
dividing the committee's or board's estimated non-marketing promotion 
expenditures by the committee's or board's estimated total expenditures 
approved by the Secretary and applying that percentage to the 
assessment rate applicable to all persons for the assessment period. 
The modified assessment rate shall then be applied to the quantity of 
certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' products handled under 
an approved organic assessment exemption as provided in paragraph 
(c)(2) of this section. Products handled not subject to an approved 
organic assessment exemption shall be assessed at the assessment rate 
applicable to all persons for the assessment period. The committee's or 
board's estimated non-marketing promotion expenditures shall exclude 
the direct costs of marketing promotion and the portion of committee's 
or board's administrative and overhead costs (e.g., salaries, supplies, 
printing, equipment, rent, contractual expenses, and other applicable 
costs) to support and administer the marketing promotion activities.
    (2) If a committee or board does not plan to conduct any market 
promotion activities in a fiscal year, the committee or board may 
submit a certification to that effect to the Secretary, and as long as 
no assessments for such fiscal year are used for marketing promotion 
projects, or the administration of projects are funded by a previous 
fiscal period's assessments, the committee or board may assess all 
handlers, regardless of their organic status, the full assessment rate 
applicable to the assessment period.
    (3) For each assessment period, the Secretary shall review the 
portion of the assessment rate applicable to marketing promotion for 
persons eligible for an exemption and, if appropriate, approve the 
assessment rate.
    (4) When the requirements of this section for exemption no longer 
apply to a handler, the handler shall inform the committee or board 
within 30 days and pay the full assessment on all remaining assessable 
product for all committee or board assessments from the date the 
handler no longer is eligible to the end of the assessment period.
    (5) Within 30 days following the applicable assessment period, the 
committee or board shall re-compute the applicable assessment rate for 
handlers exempt under this section based on the actual expenditures 
incurred during the applicable assessment period. The Secretary shall 
review, and if appropriate, approve any change in the portion of the 
assessment rate for market promotion applicable to exempt handlers, and 
authorize adjustments for

[[Page 75016]]

any overpayments or collection of underpayments.

PART 1150--DAIRY PROMOTION PROGRAM

0
3. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1150 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 4501-4514 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
4. In Sec.  1150.157, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (g), 
(i), and (j) to read as follows:


Sec.  1150.157  Assessment exemption.

    (a) A producer described in Sec.  1150.152(a)(1) and (2) who 
operates under an approved National Organic Program (7 CFR part 205) 
(NOP) organic production system plan may be exempt from the payment of 
assessments provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of the producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 
205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) To apply for exemption under this section, a producer subject 
to assessments pursuant to Sec.  1150.152(a)(1) and (2) shall submit a 
request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) 
at any time during the year initially, and annually thereafter on or 
before July 1, for as long as the producer continues to be eligible for 
the exemption.
    (c) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid organic 
certificate issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (e) A producer approved for exemption under this section shall 
provide a copy of the Certificate of Exemption to each person 
responsible for remitting assessments to the Board on behalf of the 
producer pursuant to Sec.  1150.152(a).
* * * * *
    (g) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' dairy 
products on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time 
initially, and annually thereafter on or before July 1, as long as the 
importer continues to be eligible for the exemption. This documentation 
shall include the same information required of producers in paragraph 
(c) of this section. If the importer complies with the requirements of 
this section, the Board will grant the exemption and issue a 
Certificate of Exemption to the importer. The Board will also issue the 
importer an alphanumeric number valid for 1 year from the date of 
issue. This alphanumeric number should be entered by the importer on 
the CBP entry documentation. Any line item entry of ''organic'' or 
``100 percent organic'' dairy products bearing this alphanumeric number 
assigned by the Board will not be subject to assessments. Any importer 
so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay assessments under 
this part that are associated with any imported agricultural products 
that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
* * * * *
    (i) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.
    (j) An importer who is exempt from payment of assessments under 
paragraph (g) of this section shall be eligible for reimbursement of 
assessments collected by the CBP on certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' dairy products and may apply to the Secretary for a 
reimbursement. The importer would be required to submit satisfactory 
proof to the Secretary that the importer paid the assessment on exempt 
organic products.

PART 1160--FLUID MILK PROMOTION PROGRAM

0
5. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1160 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 6401-6417 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
6. In Sec.  1160.215, revise paragraphs (b) through (e) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  1160.215  Assessment exemption.

* * * * *
    (b) A fluid milk processor described in Sec.  1160.211(a) who 
operates under an approved National Organic Program (7 CFR part 205) 
(NOP) organic handling system plan may be exempt from the payment of 
assessments provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a fluid milk 
processor regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to 
the exemption is processed by a person that also processes conventional 
or non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity 
as that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The fluid milk processor maintains a valid certificate of 
organic operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 
1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations

[[Page 75017]]

issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 205); and
    (4) Any fluid milk processor so exempted shall continue to be 
obligated to pay assessments under this part that are associated with 
any agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under 
this section.
    (c) To apply for an assessment exemption, a fluid milk processor 
described in Sec.  1160.211(a) shall submit a request to the Board on 
an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the 
year initially, and annually thereafter on or before July 1, for as 
long as the processor continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (d) A fluid milk processor request for exemption shall include the 
following information:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid organic 
certificate issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant processes organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (e) If a fluid milk processor complies with the requirements of 
this section, the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a 
Certificate of Exemption to the processor within 30 days. If the 
application is disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the 
reason(s) for disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *

PART 1205--COTTON RESEARCH AND PROMOTION

0
7. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1205 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 2101-2118 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
8. In Sec.  1205.519, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), 
and (h) and add paragraph (i) to read as follows:


Sec.  1205.519  Organic exemption.

    (a) A producer who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under the OFPA (7 CFR 
part 205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) To apply for an exemption under this section, an eligible 
cotton producer shall submit a request for exemption to the Board on an 
Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time initially, and 
annually thereafter on or before the beginning of the crop year, as 
long as the producer continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces and/or imports 
organic products eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent 
organic'' under the NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (e) A producer approved for exemption under this section shall 
provide a copy of the Certificate of Exemption to each handler to whom 
the producer sells cotton. The handler shall maintain records showing 
the exempt producer's name and address and the exemption number 
assigned by the Board.
    (f) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' cotton 
and cotton products on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) 
at any time initially, and annually thereafter, as long as the importer 
continues to be eligible for the exemption. This documentation shall 
include the same information required of producers in paragraph (c) of 
this section. If the importer complies with the requirements of this 
section, the Board will grant the exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the importer. The Board will also issue the importer an 
alphanumeric number valid for 1 year from the date of issue. This 
alphanumeric number should be entered by the importer on the Customs 
entry documentation. Any line item entry of ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' cotton and cotton products bearing this alphanumeric 
number assigned by the Board will not be subject to assessments. Any 
importer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay assessments 
under this part that are associated with any imported agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
* * * * *
    (h) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.
    (i) An importer who is exempt from payment of assessments under

[[Page 75018]]

paragraph (f) of this section shall be eligible for reimbursement of 
assessments collected by Customs on certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' cotton and cotton products and may apply to the 
Secretary for a reimbursement. The importer would be required to submit 
satisfactory proof to the Secretary that the importer paid the 
assessment on exempt organic products.

PART 1206--MANGO PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION

0
9. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1206 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 7411-7425 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
10. In Sec.  1206.202, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), and (e) 
and add paragraph (g) to read as follows:


Sec.  1206.202  Exemption for organic mangos.

    (a) A first handler who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic handling system plan may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products handled by the first 
handler regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is handled by a person that also handles conventional or non-
organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The first handler maintains a valid certificate of organic 
operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 
U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 
CFR part 205); and
    (4) Any first handler so exempted shall continue to be obligated to 
pay assessments under this part that are associated with any 
agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under this 
section.
    (b) To apply for exemption under this section, an eligible first 
handler shall submit a request for exemption to the Board on an Organic 
Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time initially, and 
annually thereafter on or before the beginning of the fiscal period, as 
long as the first handler continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) A first handler request for exemption shall include the 
following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant handles organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a first handler complies with the requirements of this 
section, the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a 
Certificate of Exemption to the first handler within 30 days. If the 
application is disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the 
reason(s) for disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (e) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP shall 
be exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such 
importer may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption 
from assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
mangos on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time 
initially, and annually thereafter on or before the beginning of the 
fiscal period, as long as the importer continues to be eligible for 
exemption. This documentation shall include the same information 
required of first handlers in paragraph (c) of this section. If the 
importer complies with the requirements of this section, the Board will 
grant the exemption and issue a Certificate of Exemption to the 
importer within the applicable timeframe. If Customs collects the 
assessment on exempt product that is identified as ``organic'' by a 
number in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, the Board must reimburse the 
exempt importer the assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments 
from Customs. For all other exempt organic product for which Customs 
collects the assessment, the importer may apply to the Board for a 
reimbursement of assessments paid, and the importer must submit 
satisfactory proof to the Board that the importer paid the assessment 
on exempt organic product. Any importer so exempted shall continue to 
be obligated to pay assessments under this part that are associated 
with any imported agricultural products that do not qualify for an 
exemption under this section.
* * * * *
    (g) An importer who is exempt from payment of assessments under 
paragraph (e) of this section shall be eligible for reimbursement of 
assessments collected by the CBP on certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' mangos and may apply to the Secretary for a 
reimbursement. The importer would be required to submit satisfactory 
proof to the Secretary that the importer paid the assessment on exempt 
organic products.

PART 1207--POTATO RESEARCH AND PROMOTION PLAN

0
11. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1207 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 2611-2627 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
12. In Sec.  1207.514, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), 
and (h) to read as follows:


Sec.  1207.514  Exemption for organic potatoes.

    (a) A producer who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 
205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) To apply for exemption under this section, the producer shall 
submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request Form 
(Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before July 1, for as long as the producer continues 
to be eligible for the exemption.

[[Page 75019]]

    (c) The producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (e) A producer approved for exemption under this section shall 
provide a copy of the Certificate of Exemption to each handler to whom 
the producer sells potatoes. The handler shall maintain records showing 
the exempt producer's name and address and the exemption number 
assigned by the Board.
    (f) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP shall 
be exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such 
importer may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption 
from assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
potatoes, potato products, and seed potatoes on an Organic Exemption 
Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before July 1, as long as the importer continues to be 
eligible for the exemption. This documentation shall include the same 
information required of producers in paragraph (c) of this section. If 
the importer complies with the requirements of this section, the Board 
will grant the exemption and issue a Certificate of Exemption to the 
importer. If Customs collects the assessment on exempt product that is 
identified as ``organic'' by a number in the Harmonized Tariff 
Schedule, the Board must reimburse the exempt importer the assessments 
paid upon receipt of such assessments from Customs. For all other 
exempt organic product for which Customs collects the assessment, the 
importer may apply to the Board for a reimbursement of assessments 
paid, and the importer must submit satisfactory proof to the Board that 
the importer paid the assessment on exempt organic product. Any 
importer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay assessments 
under this part that are associated with any imported agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
* * * * *
    (h) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.

PART 1208--PROCESSED RASPBERRY PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION 
ORDER

0
13. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1208 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 7411-7425; 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
14. In Sec.  1208.53, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  1208.53  Exemption and reimbursement procedures.

* * * * *
    (d) Organic exemption. (1) A producer of raspberries for processing 
who operates under an approved National Organic Program (7 CFR part 
205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be exempt from the 
payment of assessments provided that:
    (i) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (ii) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or 
``100 percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (iii) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic 
operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 
U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 
CFR part 205); and
    (iv) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (2) To apply for exemption under this section, an eligible producer 
shall submit a request to the Council on an Organic Exemption Request 
Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before the beginning of the fiscal period, for as long 
as the producer continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (3) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (i) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (ii) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (iii) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (iv) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation provided by a USDA-accredited 
certifying agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (v) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (vi) Such other information as may be required by the Council, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (4) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Council will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate 
of Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Council will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (5) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Council and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
processed raspberries on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-
15) at any time initially, and

[[Page 75020]]

annually thereafter on or before the beginning of the fiscal period, as 
long as the importer continues to be eligible for the exemption. This 
documentation shall include the same information required of a producer 
in paragraph (d)(3) of this section. If the importer complies with the 
requirements of this section, the Council will grant the exemption and 
issue a Certificate of Exemption to the importer within the applicable 
timeframe. If Customs collects the assessment on exempt product that is 
identified as ``organic'' by a number in the Harmonized Tariff 
Schedule, the Council must reimburse the exempt importer the 
assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments from Customs. For all 
other exempt organic product for which Customs collects the assessment, 
the importer may apply to the Council for a reimbursement of 
assessments paid, and the importer must submit satisfactory proof to 
the Council that the importer paid the assessment on exempt organic 
product. Any importer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any imported 
agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under this 
section.
* * * * *

PART 1209--MUSHROOM PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND CONSUMER INFORMATION 
ORDER

0
15. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1209 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 6101-6112 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
16. In Sec.  1209.52, revise paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  1209.52  Exemption from assessment.

    (a) The following persons shall be exempt from assessments under 
this part:
    (1) A person who produces or imports, on average, 500,000 pounds or 
less of mushrooms annually shall be exempt from assessments under this 
part.
    (2) [Reserved]
    (3) [Reserved]
* * * * *
0
17. In Sec.  1209.252, redesignate paragraph (a)(2) as paragraph 
(a)(4), add paragraphs (a)(2) and (3), and revise newly redesignated 
paragraph (a)(4) to read as follows:


Sec.  1209.252  Exemptions and exemption procedures.

    (a) * * *
    (2) In addition to the exemption provided for in Sec.  1209.52, a 
producer who operates under an approved National Organic Program (7 CFR 
part 205) (NOP) system plan; produces products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP;
    (3) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP (7 CFR 
part 205);
    (4) To apply for an exemption for organic mushrooms:
    (i) An eligible mushroom producer shall submit a request for 
exemption to the Council on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form 
AMS-15) at any time initially, and annually thereafter on or before 
January 1, as long as the producer continues to be eligible for the 
exemption.
    (ii) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (A) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (B) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (C) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (D) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (E) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (F) Such other information as may be required by the Council, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (iii) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Council will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate 
of Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Council will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (iv) An eligible mushroom importer shall submit a request for 
exemption from assessment on imported certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' mushrooms on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form 
AMS-15) at any time initially, and annually thereafter on or before 
January 1, as long as the importer continues to be eligible for the 
exemption. This documentation shall include the same information 
required of producers in paragraph (a)(4)(ii) of this section. If the 
importer complies with the requirements of this section, the Council 
will grant the exemption and issue a Certificate of Exemption to the 
importer. If Customs collects the assessment on exempt product that is 
identified as ``organic'' by a number in the Harmonized Tariff 
Schedule, the Council must reimburse the exempt importer the 
assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments from Customs. For all 
other exempt organic product for which Customs collects the assessment, 
the importer may apply to the Council for a reimbursement of 
assessments paid, and the importer must submit satisfactory proof to 
the Council that the importer paid the assessment on exempt organic 
product. Any importer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any imported 
agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under this 
section.
    (v) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.
* * * * *

PART 1210--WATERMELON RESEARCH AND PROMOTION PLAN

0
18. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1210 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 4901-4916 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
19. In Sec.  1210.516, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (f), and 
(h) to read as follows:


Sec.  1210.516  Exemption for organic watermelons.

    (a) A producer or handler who operates under an approved National 
Organic Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan 
may be exempt from the payment of assessments under this part provided 
that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer or 
handler regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced or handled by a person that

[[Page 75021]]

also produces or handles conventional or non-organic agricultural 
products of the same agricultural commodity as that for which the 
exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer or handler maintains a valid certificate of 
organic operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 
1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under 
the OFPA (7 CFR part 205); and
    (4) Any producer or handler so exempted shall continue to be 
obligated to pay assessments under this part that are associated with 
any agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under 
this section.
    (b) To apply for exemption under this section, an eligible producer 
or handler shall submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption 
Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and 
annually thereafter on or before January 1, for as long as the producer 
or handler continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) The request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces or handles organic 
products eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
under the NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer or handler complies with the requirements of this 
section, the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a 
Certificate of Exemption to the producer or handler within 30 days. If 
the application is disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of 
the reason(s) for disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *
    (f) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
watermelons on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any 
time initially, and annually thereafter on or before January 1, as long 
as the importer continues to be eligible for the exemption. This 
documentation shall include the same information required of producers 
in paragraph (c) of this section. If the importer complies with the 
requirements of this section, the Board will grant the exemption and 
issue a Certificate of Exemption to the importer. If Customs collects 
the assessment on exempt product that is identified as ``organic'' by a 
number in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, the Board must reimburse the 
exempt importer the assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments 
from Customs. For all other exempt organic product for which Customs 
collects the assessment, the importer may apply to the Board for a 
reimbursement of assessments paid, and the importer must submit 
satisfactory proof to the Board that the importer paid the assessment 
on exempt organic product. Any importer so exempted shall continue to 
be obligated to pay assessments under this part that are associated 
with any imported agricultural products that do not qualify for an 
exemption under this section.
* * * * *
    (h) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.

PART 1212--HONEY PACKERS AND IMPORTERS RESEARCH, PROMOTION, 
CONSUMER EDUCATION AND INDUSTRY INFORMATION ORDER

0
20. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1212 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7411-7425; 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
21. In Sec.  1212.53, revise paragraphs (b), (e), and (g) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  1212.53  Exemption from assessment.

* * * * *
    (b) A first handler or importer who operates under an approved 
National Organic Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic system plan may 
be exempt from the payment of assessments under this part provided 
that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a first handler 
or importer regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to 
the exemption is handled or imported by a person that also handles or 
imports conventional or non-organic agricultural products of the same 
agricultural commodity as that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The first handler or importer maintains a valid certificate of 
organic operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 
1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under 
OFPA (7 CFR part 205); and
    (4) Any first handler or importer so exempted shall continue to be 
obligated to pay assessments under this part that are associated with 
any agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under 
this section.
    (5) Persons eligible for an organic assessment exemption as 
provided this section may apply for such an exemption by submitting a 
request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) 
at any time during the year initially, and annually thereafter on or 
before January 1, as long as the first handler or importer continues to 
be eligible for the exemption.
    (i) A first handler or importer request for exemption shall include 
the following:
    (A) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (B) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (C) Certification that the applicant handles or imports organic 
products eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
under the NOP;
    (D) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (E) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (F) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.

[[Page 75022]]

    (ii) Upon receipt of an application, the Board shall determine 
whether an exemption may be granted and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the first handler or importer within 30 calendar days. If 
the application is disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of 
the reason(s) for disapproval within the same timeframe. It is the 
responsibility of the first handler or importer to retain a copy of the 
certificate of exemption.
* * * * *
    (e) Exempt importers shall be eligible for reimbursement of 
assessments collected by Customs.
    (1) Importers exempt under paragraph (a) of this section must apply 
to the Board for reimbursement of any assessment paid. No interest will 
be paid on the assessment collected by Customs. Requests for 
reimbursement must be submitted to the Board within 90 days of the last 
day of the calendar year the honey or honey products were imported.
    (2) If Customs collects the assessment on exempt product under 
paragraph (b) of this section that is identified as ``organic'' by a 
number in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, the Board must reimburse the 
exempt importer the assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments 
from Customs. For all other exempt organic product for which Customs 
collects the assessment, the importer may apply to the Board for a 
reimbursement of assessments paid, and the importer must submit 
satisfactory proof to the Board that the importer paid the assessment 
on exempt organic product.
* * * * *
    (g) Any person who desires an exemption from assessments for a 
subsequent calendar year shall reapply to the Board for a certificate 
of exemption.
* * * * *

PART 1214--CHRISTMAS TREE PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION 
ORDER

0
22. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1214 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7411-7425; 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
23. In Sec.  1214.53, revise paragraph (c) to read as follows:


Sec.  1214.53  Exemption from and refunds of assessments.

* * * * *
    (c) Organic. (1) A producer who domestically produces Christmas 
trees under an approved National Organic Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) 
organic production system plan may be exempt from the payment of 
assessments under this part provided that:
    (i) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (ii) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or 
``100 percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (iii) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic 
operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 
U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 
CFR part 205); and
    (iv) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (2) To apply for exemption under this section, an eligible producer 
shall submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request 
Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before the start of the fiscal period, for as long as 
the producer continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (3) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (i) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (ii) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (iii) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (iv) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent;
    (v) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (vi) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (4) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (5) An importer who imports Christmas trees that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments. Such importer may submit 
documentation to the Board and request an exemption from assessment on 
certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' Christmas trees on an 
Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time initially, and 
annually thereafter on or before the beginning of the fiscal period, as 
long as the importer continues to be eligible for the exemption. This 
documentation shall include the same information required of a producer 
in paragraph (c)(3) of this section. If the importer complies with the 
requirements of this section, the Board will grant the exemption and 
issue a Certificate of Exemption to the importer within the applicable 
timeframe. Any importer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to 
pay assessments under this part that are associated with any imported 
agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under this 
section.
    (6) If Customs collects the assessment on exempt product under 
paragraph (c)(5) of this section that is identified as ``organic'' by a 
number in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, the Board must reimburse the 
exempt importer the assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments 
from Customs. For all other exempt organic product for which Customs 
collects the assessment, the importer may apply to the Board for a 
reimbursement of assessments paid, and the importer must submit 
satisfactory proof to the Board that the importer paid the assessment 
on exempt organic product.
    (7) The exemption will apply immediately following the issuance of 
the Certificate of Exemption.

PART 1215--POPCORN PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND CONSUMER INFORMATION

0
24. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1215 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7481-7491 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
25. In Sec.  1215.52, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  1215.52  Exemption from assessment.

* * * * *
    (b) Persons that operate under an approved National Organic Program 
(7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic handling system plan may be exempt from 
the payment of assessments provided that:

[[Page 75023]]

    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a processor 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is processed by a person that also processes conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The processor maintains a valid certificate of organic 
operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 
U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 
CFR part 205); and
    (4) Any processor so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
* * * * *
0
26. In Sec.  1215.300:
0
a. Revise paragraph (b);
0
b. Redesignate paragraphs (c) through (f) as paragraphs (d) through 
(g), respectively;
0
c. Add paragraph (c); and
0
d. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (d).
    The revisions and addition read as follows:


Sec.  1215.300  Exemption procedures.

* * * * *
    (b) Persons eligible for an organic assessment exemption as 
provided in Sec.  1215.52(b) may apply for such an exemption by 
submitting a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request Form 
(Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before January 1, as long as the processor continues 
to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) A processor request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant processes organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) Upon receipt of an application, the Board shall determine 
whether an exemption may be granted and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the processor within 30 calendar days. If the application 
is disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) 
for disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *

PART 1216--PEANUT PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION ORDER

0
27. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1216 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7411-7425 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
28. In Sec.  1216.56, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), and (g) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  1216.56  Exemption for organic peanuts.

    (a) A producer who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments under this part provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OPFA (7 CFR part 
205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) In order to apply for this exemption, an eligible peanut 
producer shall submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption 
Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and 
annually thereafter on or before August 1, for as long as the producer 
continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid organic 
certificate issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *
    (g) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.

PART 1217--SOFTWOOD LUMBER RESEARCH, PROMOTION, CONSUMER EDUCATION 
AND INDUSTRY INFORMATION ORDER

0
29. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1217 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7411-7425; 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
30. In Sec.  1217.53, revise paragraph (d) to read as follows:


Sec.  1217.53  Exemption from assessment.

* * * * *

[[Page 75024]]

    (d) Organic. (1) A domestic manufacturer of softwood lumber 
products who operates under an approved National Organic Program (7 CFR 
part 205) (NOP) organic handling system plan may be exempt from the 
payment of assessments under this part provided that:
    (i) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (ii) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or 
``100 percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a 
manufacturer regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject 
to the exemption is manufactured by a person that also manufactures 
conventional or non-organic agricultural products of the same 
agricultural commodity as that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (iii) The manufacturer maintains a valid certificate of organic 
operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 
U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 
CFR part 205); and
    (iv) Any manufacturer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to 
pay assessments under this part that are associated with any 
agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under this 
section.
    (2) To apply for exemption under this section, an eligible 
manufacturer shall submit a request to the Board on an Organic 
Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year 
initially, and annually thereafter on or before the start of the fiscal 
year, for as long as the manufacturer continues to be eligible for the 
exemption.
    (3) A manufacturer request for exemption shall include the 
following:
    (i) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (ii) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (iii) Certification that the applicant manufactures organic 
products eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
under the NOP;
    (iv) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (v) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (vi) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (4) If a manufacturer complies with the requirements of this 
section, the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a 
Certificate of Exemption to the manufacturer within 30 calendar days. 
If the application is disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant 
of the reason(s) for disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (5) An importer who imports softwood lumber that is eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments. Such importer may submit 
documentation to the Board and request an exemption from assessment on 
certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' softwood lumber on an 
Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time initially, and 
annually thereafter on or before the beginning of the fiscal year, as 
long as the importer continues to be eligible for the exemption. This 
documentation shall include the same information required of a 
manufacturer in paragraph (d)(3) of this section. If the importer 
complies with the requirements of this section, the Board will grant 
the exemption and issue a Certificate of Exemption to the importer 
within the applicable timeframe. Any importer so exempted shall 
continue to be obligated to pay assessments under this part that are 
associated with any imported agricultural products that do not qualify 
for an exemption under this section.
    (6) If Customs collects the assessment on exempt product under 
paragraph (d)(5) of this section that is identified as ``organic'' by a 
number in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, the Board must reimburse the 
exempt importer the assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments 
from Customs. For all other exempt organic product for which Customs 
collects the assessment, the importer may apply to the Board for a 
reimbursement of assessments paid, and the importer must submit 
satisfactory proof to the Board that the importer paid the assessment 
on exempt organic product.
    (7) The exemption will apply immediately following the issuance of 
a Certificate of Exemption.

PART 1218--BLUEBERRY PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION ORDER

0
31. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1218 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7411-7425 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
32. In Sec.  1218.53:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (c) and (d);
0
b. Redesignate paragraphs (e) through (k) as paragraphs (g) through 
(m), respectively;
0
c. Add paragraphs (e) and (f); and
0
d. Revise newly redesignated paragraphs (g), (i), and (k).
    The revisions and addition read as follows:


Sec.  1218.53  Exemption procedures.

* * * * *
    (c) A producer who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments under this part provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 
205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (d) To apply for exemption under this section, a producer shall 
submit a request to the Council on an Organic Exemption Request Form 
(Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before January 1, for as long as the producer 
continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (e) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;

[[Page 75025]]

    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Council, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (f) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Council will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate 
of Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Council will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (g) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Council and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
blueberries on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any 
time initially, and annually thereafter on or before January 1, as long 
as the importer continues to be eligible for the exemption. This 
documentation shall include the same information required of producers 
in paragraph (e) of this section. If the importer complies with the 
requirements of this section, the Council will grant the exemption and 
issue a Certificate of Exemption to the importer. If Customs and Border 
Protection (Customs) collects the assessment on exempt product that is 
identified as ``organic'' by a number in the Harmonized Tariff 
Schedule, the Council must reimburse the exempt importer the 
assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments from Customs. For all 
other exempt organic product for which Customs collects the assessment, 
the importer may apply to the Council for a reimbursement of 
assessments paid, and the importer must submit satisfactory proof to 
the Council that the importer paid the assessment on exempt organic 
product. Any importer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any imported 
agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under this 
section.
* * * * *
    (i) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.
* * * * *
    (k) Importers who are exempt from payment of assessments shall be 
eligible for reimbursement of assessments collected by Customs and may 
apply to the Council for a reimbursement of such assessments paid. No 
interest will be paid on assessments collected by Customs. Requests for 
reimbursement shall be submitted to the Council within 90 days of the 
last day of the year the blueberries were actually imported.
* * * * *

PART 1219--HASS AVOCADO PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION

0
33. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1219 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7801-7813 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
34. In Sec.  1219.202, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (f), and 
(h) to read as follows:


Sec.  1219.202  Exemption for organic Hass avocados.

    (a) A producer who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments under this part provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 
205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) To apply for exemption under this section, an eligible Hass 
avocado producer shall submit a request to the Board on an Organic 
Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year 
initially, and annually thereafter on or before November 1, for as long 
as the producer continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *
    (f) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' Hass 
avocados on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time 
initially, and annually thereafter on or before November 1, as long as 
the importer continues to be eligible for the exemption. This 
documentation shall include the same information required of producers 
in paragraph (c) of this section. If the importer complies with the 
requirements of this section, the Board will grant the exemption and 
issue a

[[Page 75026]]

Certificate of Exemption to the importer. If Customs collects the 
assessment on exempt product that is identified as ``organic'' by a 
number in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, the Board must reimburse the 
exempt importer the assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments 
from Customs. For all other exempt organic product for which Customs 
collects the assessment, the importer may apply to the Board for a 
reimbursement of assessments paid, and the importer must submit 
satisfactory proof to the Board that the importer paid the assessment 
on exempt organic product. Any importer so exempted shall continue to 
be obligated to pay assessments under this part that are associated 
with any imported agricultural products that do not qualify for an 
exemption under this section.
* * * * *
    (h) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.

PART 1220--SOYBEAN PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND CONSUMER INFORMATION

0
35. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1220 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 6301-6311 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
36. In Sec.  1220.302, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), and (g) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  1220.302  Exemption.

    (a) A producer who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments under this part provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 
205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) To apply for an exemption under this section, the producer 
shall submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request 
Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before January 1, for as long as the producer 
continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *
    (g) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.

PART 1221--SORGHUM PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION ORDER

0
37. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1221 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7411-7425 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
38. In Sec.  1221.117, revise paragraphs (g), (h), (i), (j), and (m) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  1221.117  Exemptions.

* * * * *
    (g) A producer or importer who operates under an approved National 
Organic Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production or handling 
system plan may be exempt from the payment of assessments under this 
part provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer or 
importer regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to 
the exemption is produced or imported by a person that also produces or 
imports conventional or non-organic agricultural products of the same 
agricultural commodity as that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer or importer maintains a valid certificate of 
organic operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 
1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under 
OFPA (7 CFR part 205); and
    (4) Any producer or importer so exempted shall continue to be 
obligated to pay assessments under this part that are associated with 
any agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under 
this section.
    (h) To apply for an exemption under this section, the applicant 
shall submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request 
Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before January 1, for as long as the producer or 
importer continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (i) A producer or importer request for exemption shall include the 
following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and

[[Page 75027]]

fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces or imports organic 
products eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
under the NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (j) If the applicant complies with the requirements of this 
section, the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a 
Certificate of Exemption to the producer or importer within 30 days. If 
the application is disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of 
the reason(s) for disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *
    (m) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.

PART 1222--PAPER AND PAPER-BASED PACKAGING PROMOTION, RESEARCH AND 
INFORMATION ORDER

0
39. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1222 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 7411-7425; 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
40. In Sec.  1222.53, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  1222.53  Exemption from assessment.

* * * * *
    (b) Organic. (1) A manufacturer who operates under an approved 
National Organic Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic handling system 
plan may be exempt from the payment of assessments under this part 
provided that:
    (i) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (ii) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or 
``100 percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a 
manufacturer regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject 
to the exemption is manufactured by a person that also manufactures 
conventional or non-organic agricultural products of the same 
agricultural commodity as that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (iii) The manufacturer maintains a valid certificate of organic 
operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 
U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 
CFR part 205); and
    (iv) Any manufacturer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to 
pay assessments under this part that are associated with any 
agricultural products that do not qualify for an exemption under this 
section.
    (2) To apply for exemption under this section, an eligible 
manufacturer shall submit a request to the Board on an Organic 
Exemption Request Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year 
initially, and annually thereafter on or before the start of the fiscal 
year, as long as the manufacturer continues to be eligible for the 
exemption.
    (3) A manufacturer request for exemption shall include the 
following:
    (i) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (ii) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (iii) Certification that the applicant manufactures organic 
products eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' 
under the NOP;
    (iv) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (v) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (vi) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (4) If a manufacturer complies with the requirements of this 
section, the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a 
Certificate of Exemption to the manufacturer within 30 calendar days. 
If the application is disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant 
of the reason(s) for disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (5) An importer who imports paper and paper-based packaging that is 
eligible to be labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under 
the NOP may be exempt from the payment of assessments. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' paper 
and paper-based packaging on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form 
AMS-15) at any time initially, and annually thereafter on or before the 
beginning of the fiscal year, as long as the importer continues to be 
eligible for the exemption. This documentation shall include the same 
information required of a manufacturer in paragraph (b)(3) of this 
section. If the importer complies with the requirements of this 
section, the Board will grant the exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the importer within the applicable timeframe. Any importer 
so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay assessments under 
this part that are associated with any imported agricultural products 
that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (6) If Customs collects the assessment on exempt product under 
paragraph (b)(5) of this section that is identified as ``organic'' by a 
number in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, the Board must reimburse the 
exempt importer the assessments paid upon receipt of such assessments 
from Customs. For all other exempt organic product for which Customs 
collects the assessment, the importer may apply to the Board for a 
reimbursement of assessments paid, and the importer must submit 
satisfactory proof to the Board that the importer paid the assessment 
on exempt organic product.
    (7) The exemption will apply immediately following the issuance of 
a Certificate of Exemption.

PART 1230--PORK PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND CONSUMER INFORMATION

0
41. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1230 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 4801-4819 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
42. In Sec.  1230.102, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (g), and 
(i) and add paragraph (j) to read as follows:


Sec.  1230.102  Exemption.

    (a) A producer who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be 
exempt from the

[[Page 75028]]

payment of assessments under this part provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 
205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) To apply for exemption under this section, a producer shall 
submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request Form 
(Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before January 1, for as long as the producer 
continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *
    (g) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' porcine 
animals or pork and pork products on an Organic Exemption Request Form 
(Form AMS-15) at any time initially, and annually thereafter on or 
before January 1, as long as the importer continues to be eligible for 
the exemption. This documentation shall include the same information 
required of producers in paragraph (c) of this section. If the importer 
complies with the requirements of this section, the Board will grant 
the exemption and issue a Certificate of Exemption to the importer. The 
Board will also issue the importer an alphanumeric number valid for 1 
year from the date of issue. This alphanumeric number should be entered 
by the importer on the Customs entry documentation. Any line item entry 
of ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' porcine animals or pork and 
pork products bearing this alphanumeric number assigned by the Board 
will not be subject to assessments. Any importer so exempted shall 
continue to be obligated to pay assessments under this part that are 
associated with any imported agricultural products that do not qualify 
for an exemption under this section.
* * * * *
    (i) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.
    (j) An importer who is exempt from payment of assessments under 
paragraph (g) of this section shall be eligible for reimbursement of 
assessments collected by Customs on certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' porcine animals or pork and pork products and may 
apply to the Secretary for a reimbursement. The importer would be 
required to submit satisfactory proof to the Secretary that the 
importer paid the assessment on exempt organic products.

PART 1250--EGG RESEARCH AND PROMOTION

0
43. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1250 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 2701-2718 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
44. In Sec.  1250.530, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  1250.530  Certification of exempt producers.

* * * * *
    (b) Organic Production. (1) A producer who operates under an 
approved National Organic Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic 
production system plan may be exempt from the payment of assessments 
under this part provided that:
    (i) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (ii) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or 
``100 percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (iii) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic 
operation as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 
U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 
CFR part 205); and
    (iv) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (2) To apply for exemption under this section, a producer shall 
submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request Form 
(Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before January 1, for as long the producer continues 
to be eligible for the exemption.
    (3) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (i) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (ii) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic

[[Page 75029]]

operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (iii) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (iv) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (v) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (vi) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (4) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
    (5) The producer shall provide a copy of the Certificate of 
Exemption to each handler to whom the producer sells eggs. The handler 
shall maintain records showing the exempt producer's name and address 
and the exemption number assigned by the Board.
    (6) The exemption will apply at the first reporting period 
following the issuance of the Certificate of Exemption.
    (7) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.
* * * * *

PART 1260--BEEF PROMOTION AND RESEARCH

0
45. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1260 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 2901-2911 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
46. In Sec.  1260.302, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (g), and 
(i) and add paragraph (j) to read as follows:


Sec.  1260.302  Organic exemption.

    (a) A producer who operates under an approved National Organic 
Program (7 CFR part 205) (NOP) organic production system plan may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments under this part provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer 
regardless of whether the agricultural commodity subject to the 
exemption is produced by a person that also produces conventional or 
non-organic agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as 
that for which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer maintains a valid certificate of organic operation 
as issued under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 
6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 
205); and
    (4) Any producer so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) To apply for exemption under this section, a producer shall 
submit a request to the Board or QSBC on an Organic Exemption Request 
Form (Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before January 1, for as long as the producer 
continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) A producer request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces organic products 
eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the 
NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a producer complies with the requirements of this section, 
the Board or QSBC will grant an assessment exemption and issue a 
Certificate of Exemption to the producer within 30 days. If the 
application is disapproved, the Board or QSBC will notify the applicant 
of the reason(s) for disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *
    (g) An importer who imports products that are eligible to be 
labeled as ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' under the NOP may be 
exempt from the payment of assessments on those products. Such importer 
may submit documentation to the Board and request an exemption from 
assessment on certified ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' cattle 
or beef and beef products on an Organic Exemption Request Form (Form 
AMS-15) at any time initially, and annually thereafter on or before 
January 1, as long as the importer continues to be eligible for the 
exemption. This documentation shall include the same information 
required of producers in paragraph (c) of this section. If the importer 
complies with the requirements of this section, the Board will grant 
the exemption and issue a Certificate of Exemption to the importer. The 
Board will also issue the importer an alphanumeric number valid for 1 
year from the date of issue. This alphanumeric number should be entered 
by the importer on the Customs entry documentation. Any line item entry 
of ``organic'' or ``100 percent organic'' cattle or beef and beef 
products bearing this alphanumeric number assigned by the Board will 
not be subject to assessments. Any importer so exempted shall continue 
to be obligated to pay assessments under this part that are associated 
with any imported agricultural products that do not qualify for an 
exemption under this section.
* * * * *
    (i) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.
    (j) An importer who is exempt from payment of assessments under 
paragraph (g) of this section shall be eligible for reimbursement of 
assessments collected by Customs on certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' cattle or beef and beef products and may apply to the 
Secretary for a reimbursement. The importer would be required to submit 
satisfactory proof to

[[Page 75030]]

the Secretary that the importer paid the assessment on exempt organic 
products.

PART 1280--LAMB PROMOTION, RESEARCH, AND INFORMATION ORDER

0
47. The authority citation for 7 CFR part 1280 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  7 U.S.C. 7411-7425 and 7 U.S.C. 7401.

0
48. In Sec.  1280.406, revise paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), and (h) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  1280.406  Exemption.

    (a) A producer, seed stock producer, feeder, handler, or exporter 
who operates under an approved National Organic Program (7 CFR part 
205) (NOP) organic production or handling system plan may be exempt 
from the payment of assessments under this part provided that:
    (1) Only agricultural products certified as ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) are eligible for exemption;
    (2) The exemption shall apply to all certified ``organic'' or ``100 
percent organic'' (as defined in the NOP) products of a producer, 
handler, or exporter regardless of whether the agricultural commodity 
subject to the exemption is produced, handled, or exported by a person 
that also produces, handles, or exports conventional or non-organic 
agricultural products of the same agricultural commodity as that for 
which the exemption is claimed;
    (3) The producer, handler, or exporter maintains a valid 
certificate of organic operation as issued under the Organic Foods 
Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522) (OFPA) and the NOP 
regulations issued under OFPA (7 CFR part 205); and
    (4) Any person so exempted shall continue to be obligated to pay 
assessments under this part that are associated with any agricultural 
products that do not qualify for an exemption under this section.
    (b) To apply for exemption under this section, the person shall 
submit a request to the Board on an Organic Exemption Request Form 
(Form AMS-15) at any time during the year initially, and annually 
thereafter on or before January 1, for as long as the producer 
continues to be eligible for the exemption.
    (c) The request for exemption shall include the following:
    (1) The applicant's full name, company name, address, telephone and 
fax numbers, and email address (optional);
    (2) Certification that the applicant maintains a valid certificate 
of organic operation issued under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (3) Certification that the applicant produces, handles, or exports 
organic products eligible to be labeled ``organic'' or ``100 percent 
organic'' under the NOP;
    (4) A requirement that the applicant attach a copy of their 
certificate of organic operation issued by a USDA-accredited certifying 
agent under the OFPA and the NOP;
    (5) Certification, as evidenced by signature and date, that all 
information provided by the applicant is true; and
    (6) Such other information as may be required by the Board, with 
the approval of the Secretary.
    (d) If a person complies with the requirements of this section, the 
Board will grant an assessment exemption and issue a Certificate of 
Exemption to the applicant within 30 days. If the application is 
disapproved, the Board will notify the applicant of the reason(s) for 
disapproval within the same timeframe.
* * * * *
    (h) Agricultural commodities produced and marketed under an organic 
system plan, as described in 7 CFR 205.201, but not sold, labeled, or 
represented as organic, shall not disqualify a producer from exemption 
under this section. Reasons for conventional sales include lack of 
demand for organic products, isolated use of antibiotics for humane 
purposes, chemical or pesticide use as the result of State or emergency 
spray programs, and crops from a buffer area as described in 7 CFR part 
205, provided all other criteria are met.

    Dated: December 10, 2014.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-29280 Filed 12-15-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P