The Natural Stone Council (NSC) is continuing its development of what will be a congressionally authorized "check-off" program, an industry-funded research and promotion effort that would expand the market for natural stone in the U.S. and increase demand of natural stone products.

Many other industries including propane gas, cotton farmers, the beef and pork industries and milk producers (who used the funds generated from their check-off program to fund the popular "Got Milk?" campaign) have generated millions of dollars to promote the industry's products through similar programs. Research and promotion programs are authorized by federal legislation and are designed to strengthen and grow the targeted industry in the marketplace. The programs are all fully funded by industry assessments.

The goal for the natural stone industry is simply to increase the understanding of, preference for and consumption of natural stone, reports the Marble Institute of America (MIA). "Current marketing efforts are fragmented at best and are not sustainable based solely on MIA's budget and/or the generous donations of industry members to the NSC," stated MIA. "An industry-wide check-off program is seen as a way to fairly fund promotion of natural stone that will benefit all. Check-off programs also provide funding for research on how to improve our industry and potentially identify new products or markets."

In order to move the program forward, Congress must pass special legislation to authorize a check-off program for natural stone. NSC has retained Cornerstone Government Affairs, a Washington, DC-based lobbying firm, to help the industry secure the passage of this legislation in Congress. Ideally, the check-off program will be implemented by early 2010.

To help in the industry's education process, a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document has been developed regarding the Natural Stone Industry Check-off Program, and it can be accessed by following this link: Check-off Program - Frequently Asked Questions.