The U.S. pecan industry could have its own U.S. Department of Agriculture marketing order as soon as 2016.

Following the lead of the almond and pistachio industries, pecan growers and handlers began meeting four years ago with the idea of bringing order to their fragmented industry, said Mike Adams, a Texas pecan grower and the president of the American Pecan Board.

Several national- and state-level groups represent the industry. And with export markets to China and other countries expanding rapidly, it’s become harder for the industry to speak with a single voice, Adams said.

After meeting with growers and other industry members from around the country — 15 states, from the Carolinas to California, produce pecans — Adams and the board members of the American Pecan Board have found that support is strong for a USDA marketing order, which would give the pecan industry much-needed focus and marketing muscle, tools to better quantify their crop and research funding.

Opponents of past efforts to organize the industry are on board for this one, Adams said.

“A good mix of all growing regions recognized the need for a sustained funding mechanism.”

Unlike past, “top-down” efforts to organize, this one has been deliberately grown from the grass roots up, with all industry members’ input welcome, Adams said.

As a result, Adams and other industry leaders plan to sit down soon with USDA staff to hammer out the details of a proposed marketing order.

It would then be put to a vote of industry members.

“I’m confident (a marketing order will pass), but we’re not relaxing and getting complacent. It’s a significant change to our industry.”

In the best-case scenario, the order could be signed into law in Summer 2016, Adams said.