LANSING – A referendum to determine whether to establish a Michigan Tree Fruit Research & Development Program will be conducted from February 17, 2014 through February 28, 2014 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 on November 25 and 26, 2013, and from written testimony received by MDARD.
The proposed program would be administered by a committee of nine members appointed by Governor Rick Snyder – appointed by districts – and fully funded by assessments on tree fruit (apples, cherries, plums, and peaches). The proposed program calls a maximum rate of $2.50 per ton for cherries sold; 4 cents per CWT. for apples sold: $2.00 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 each year at their spring meeting adjusting the rate as priorities are set. The commission may set a lesser rate for categories of fruit with a lower grade or value. If passed, the Program would be sent back to the producers every five years for a continuation referendum.
By law, the referendum is conducted by MDARD. Official ballots will be mailed to Michigan tree fruit producers of record on February 13, 2014. For this program, eligible producers are those who have produced any tree fruit for processing or fresh market outlet in quantity beyond that person’s own 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 February 28, 2014.
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.
Eligible producers not receiving a ballot after February 18, 2014 should contact MDARD at P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909, or call toll-free (800) 292-3939. Eligible producers may also request a ballot by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To review a copy of the Director’s Order and the proposed Michigan Tree Fruit Research & Development Program, please visit www.michigan.gov/mdard.