The paper industry has voted to create a U.S. Department of Agriculture paper check-off promotion program.

Eighty-five percent of paper companies voted to create the Packaging Promotion and Research program, according to a news release from the Paper Check-off Panel, a group of industry executives representing paper and paper-based packaging manufacturers.

The USDA announced the results of the referendum on the program, which ended Nov. 8.

“Today’s announcement represents a seminal moment for our industry to stand together and promote the benefits of paper and paper-based packaging to customers and consumers,” the panel’s chairman, John Williams, president and chief executive officer of Domtar, said in the release. “Our industry produces recyclable products from a renewable resource. The Paper Check-off will allow us to inform consumers of the sustainable products we make and the responsible manner in which we make them.”

The referendum is the culmination of a three-year effort by paper industry leaders, who conducted research, identified the opportunity to improve customer and consumer knowledge about paper products and worked to develop the program and inform the industry of the benefits a paper check-off could provide, according to the release.

At the request of the industry, USDA issued the proposed Paper and Paper-based Packaging Promotion Research and Information Order for public comment in January 2013. The second proposed rule was issued in September, followed by the Oct. 28-Nov. 8 referendum.

The program covers four segments of the paper industry: printing and writing; Kraft packaging paper; containerboard; and paperboard. Newsprint and carbonless papers will not be included in the program.

The program will be administered by a 12-member board of directors and funded by an assessment of 35 cents per short ton on companies producing or importing 100,000 short tons or more annually.