Borrowing a page from mushroom, beef and pork producers, organic fruit and vegetable growers are eyeing proposed federal rules that would exempt them from paying checkoff fees to market their products.
While the 2002 Farm Bill required growers to pay the fees, USDA says proposed amendments to the legislation would affect some 28 fruit and vegetable agreements.
The mandatory fees are earmarked for generic ads promoting everything from Texas citrus to California peaches and Washington cherries.
Over the past few years, mandatory checkoff programs have come under fire from a slew of producers who allege that the promotion is targeted at markets other than theirs -- and, in some cases, actually favors their competitors.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of the mandatory beef and/or pork checkoffs sometime next year.