Definition of Federal Marketing Orders

Marketing orders and marketing agreements are designed to help stabilize market conditions for fruit and vegetable products. The programs assist farmers in allowing them to collectively work to solve marketing problems. Industries voluntarily enter into these programs and choose to have Federal oversight of certain aspects of their operations.

Marketing orders and agreements may (1) maintain the high quality of produce that is on 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.

A marketing order is a legal instrument authorized by the U.S. Congress through the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937. Marketing orders differ from marketing agreements: marketing orders are binding on all individuals and businesses that are classified as “handlers” in a geographic area covered by the order, and marketing agreements are binding only on handlers who are voluntary signatories of the agreement.

The Marketing Order Administration Branch of the Fruit and Vegetable Programs oversees the programs to make sure the orders and agreements operate in the public interest and within legal bounds. There are now more than 50 active marketing agreement and order programs, which collect assessment fees from handlers to cover operation and administrative costs of the programs.

Programs for fruits, vegetables and specialty crops are administered by local administrative committees, which are made up of growers and/or handlers, and often a member of the public. Committee members are nominated by the industry and appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The regulations are issued and become binding on the entire industry in the geographical area regulated if approved by at least two-thirds of the producers by number or volume and if approved by the Secretary.

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The development and marketing of the Vidalia onion is one of the truly best culinary events of the last 50 years!

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- Mr. M. Philbin. Clearwater, FL