May 2, 2014
Growers, handlers vote to renew CIAB

Tart cherry growers and handlers have decided to extend the life of their industry’s federal marketing order, known as the Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB), for another six years.

USDA recently announced the results of the latest referendum on the order, conducted in March. CIAB was renewed by both growers and handlers. Growers voted 76 percent by number and 85 percent by volume in support; handlers voted 75 percent by number and 73 percent by volume in support. To renew the marketing order, more than 50 percent of the voters – by number or by tonnage – must vote yes, said Perry Hedin, CIAB’s executive director.

The latest figures are consistent with prior referenda conducted in 2003 and 2008. Consequently, the marketing order will continue for another six years, until the next referendum is due, Hedin said.

CIAB was created in 1996, after the industry petitioned USDA for a new federal marketing order. It’s based in Michigan, which typically produces about three-quarters of the U.S. tart cherry crop. The order also encompasses growers and handlers in Utah, Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania.

CIAB’s traditional role has been balancing supply and demand. If supply was predicted to be higher than demand in a particular year, the marketing order would restrict the surplus – not allowing it to be sold in domestic markets. Processors were allowed to sell restricted product in new markets and other designated outlets, however. The marketing order still seeks to balance supply and demand, but its method of calculation isn’t as restrictive as it used to be, Hedin said.

In addition, CIAB has expanded its focus in the last several years – to the benefit of growers. Promotion of tart cherries is more of a priority. Since 2006, the marketing order has spent an average of $1.4 million per year (71 percent of its budget) on promotional activities, Hedin said.

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