Mar 14, 2014
Michigan tree fruit growers approve research program

Michigan’s tree fruit producers have approved a referendum to establish the Michigan Tree Fruit Research & Development Program, according to Jamie Clover Adams, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

Clover Adams said that the program was proposed to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the Michigan tree fruit industry by supporting the fruit research stations, research and Extension programs. The goal for the program is to keep Michigan’s tree fruit industry on the cutting edge of new technology, as well as implementation of new research that keep Michigan’s farmers economically viable in the world market into the future.

The effective date of the program is April 1.

Of the 253 valid ballots received, 181 producers voted yes (72 percent), representing more than 544 million pounds (81 percent); 72 producers voted no (38 percent), representing more than 130 million pounds (19 percent), according to MDARD.

For the program to be adopted, more than 50 percent of the producer votes cast and more than 50 percent of the total production amount represented on the cast ballots must have approved the proposal. The referendum was conducted from Feb. 17 through Feb. 28.

The Michigan Tree Fruit Research and Development Program will be administered by a committee of nine members appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder – and fully funded by assessments on apples, cherries, peaches and plums. The program calls for a maximum assessment of $2.50 per ton for cherries sold; 4 cents per cwt. for apples sold: $2 per ton for peaches sold; and $4.50 per ton for plums sold.

The commission can use a sliding scale to set the assessment rate on any given year, and vary the rate up and down as priorities are set during the spring meeting. The commission may set a lesser rate for categories of fruit with a lower grade or value, according to MDARD.

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