Mar 5, 2012
Tart cherry growers to vote on marketing order amendments

USDA will conduct a referendum on proposed amendments to a federal marketing order regulating the handling of tart cherries grown in Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah, Washington state and Wisconsin.

The referendum, scheduled for March 19 to March 30, will gauge voter support for amendments recommended by the Cherry Industry Administrative Board based on evidence presented at two USDA public hearings held in April 2011.

If implemented, the proposed amendments would revise:

•The term “handle” to ensure that acquisition of grower diversion certificates are not considered handling
•The order’s marketing policy provisions so that grower-diverted cherries are not counted as production in the volume control formula
•The grower diversion privilege provisions so that grower-diverted cherries are not treated as actual harvested cherries

Notice of the referendum was published in the Federal Register March 5. Ballot materials will be mailed to all known Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin growers and processors who produced or processed tart cherries between July 1, 2010, and June 30, 2011.

Eligible voters who do not receive a ballot may contact Christian Nissan at USDA’s Southeast Marketing Field Office by calling 863-324-3375, or faxing 863-325-8793.

The proposed amendments become effective if approved by two-thirds of growers voting, or by those voting who represent at least two-thirds of the volume of cherries.

Additionally, processors who have processed more than 50 percent of the total volume of tart cherries during a representative period must also approve the amendments, according to USDA.

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