(May 28) No taxation without representation is a reasonable request.

The organic industry has said it pays assessments to commodity boards and gets no specific promotions for its niche.

Therefore, some celebrated a little-known nugget in the 2002 farm bill that exempts producers of certified organic produce from paying mandatory commodity promotion assessments. It applies only to producers who grow organic exclusively.

While such a solution seems reasonable, it’s hardly the best one. A better solution would have been for commodity boards to promote organics in proportion to organics’ share of overall assessments.

Some do that now. For example, for the Washington Apple Commission that would be about 3% to 5%, which is the percentage of organic apples in the overall crop.

But with the exemption, there may be no generic organic promotion, or there may be organic promotions bashing conventional growing practices — two scenarios that bode poorly for long-term produce industry growth.

Any time an exception is made for one group, other groups will seek one. This kind of slippery slope can do nothing but undermine the ability of commodity boards and collective promotion of fresh fruits and vegetables.

The organic exemption also could have unintended consequences, possibly pulling growers away from the conventional market, oversupplying the growing demand for organics and putting organic growers in the same boat as so many conventional growers.

The organic exemption appears to be an idealistic measure that may be more trouble than it’s worth.