7 CFR § 1212.53 - Exemption from assessment.
(a) A first handler who handles less than 250,000 pounds of honey or honey products per calendar year or an importer who imports less than 250,000 pounds of honey or honey products per calendar year is exempt from paying assessments.
(b) A first handler or importer desiring an exemption shall apply to the Board, on a form provided by the Board, for a certificate of exemption. A first handler shall certify that the first handler will handle less than 250,000 of honey and honey products for the calendar year for which the exemption is claimed. An importer shall certify that the importer will import less than 250,000 pounds of honey and honey products during the calendar year for which the exemption is claimed.
(c) A first handler or importer 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:
(1) Only agricultural products certified as “organic” or “100 percent organic” (as defined in the NOP), or certified as “organic” or “100 percent organic” under a U.S. equivalency arrangement established under 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 nonorganic 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;
(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.
(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.
(d) Upon receipt of an application, the Board shall determine whether an exemption may be granted. The Board will then issue, if deemed appropriate, a certificate of exemption to each person who is eligible to receive one. The exemption is effective when approved by the Board. It is the responsibility of these persons 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.
(f) If a person has been exempt from paying assessments for any calendar year under this section and no longer meets the requirements for an exemption, the person shall file a report with the Board in the form and manner prescribed by the Board and begin to pay the assessment on all honey or honey products handled or imported.
(g) Any person who desires an exemption from assessments for a subsequent calendar year shall reapply to the Board for a certificate of exemption.
(h) The Board may recommend to the Secretary that honey and honey products exported from the United States be exempt from this subpart and recommend procedures for refunding assessments paid on exported honey and honey products and any necessary safeguards to prevent improper use of this exemption.