Feb 17, 2014
Michigan tree fruit growers voting on research commission

A referendum to determine whether to establish a Michigan Tree Fruit Research & Development Program will be conducted from Feb. 17 through Feb. 28 by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD).

The referendum of Michigan tree fruit producers was authorized by MDARD Director Jamie Clover Adams after her review of testimony given at two public hearings held in Comstock Park and Traverse City, Mich., on Nov. 25 and 26, and from written testimony received by MDARD.

The proposed program would be administered by a committee of nine members appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder – appointed by districts – and fully funded by assessments on tree fruit (apples, cherries, plums and peaches). The maximum assessment rate would be $2.50 per ton for cherries sold; 4 cents per cwt. for apples; $2 per ton for peaches; and $4.50 per ton for plums. Rates would be adjusted on a sliding scale. If passed, the program would be sent back to the producers every five years for a continuation referendum, according to MDARD.

Official ballots were mailed to Michigan tree fruit producers of record on Feb. 13. Eligible producers are those who have produced any tree fruit for processing or fresh-market outlets in quantity beyond family use, and who have a value at first point-of-sale of more than $800 in any one growing season within the last three years. All ballots must be postmarked no later than Feb. 28.

For the program to be adopted, more than 50 percent of the votes cast – representing more than 50 percent of the total bushels voted – must approve the proposal, according to MDARD.

Eligible producers not receiving a ballot after Feb. 18 should contact MDARD at P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909; or call 800-292-3939. Eligible producers may also request a ballot by emailing [email protected].

To review a copy of the director’s order and the proposed Michigan Tree Fruit Research & Development Program, click here.

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