LANSING — Michigan Tree Fruit producers will have an opportunity to vote on whether to continue the Michigan Tree Fruit Research & Development Program in a referendum conducted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) February 11-22, 2019.
Ballots will be mailed by MDARD to Michigan apple, cherry, peach, and plum producers of record. Eligible producers with questions, or those not receiving a ballot, should contact MDARD toll-free at 800-292-3939.
The Michigan Tree Fruit Research & Development Program was developed to improve the economic position and competitiveness of the Michigan tree fruit industry by supporting the fruit research stations, research, and extension programs. This program is designed to keep Michigan’s tree fruit industry on the cutting edge of new technology as well as help implement new research that keeps Michigan’s farmers economically viable in the world market.
The program is a public body independent of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. It is comprised of nine tree fruit producers appointed by the governor. MDARD Director Gary McDowell and a person appointed by the dean of Michigan State University’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources are non-voting ex-officio members.
The program was first approved in 2014 and, by law, must be renewed every five years. Currently, Michigan tree fruit may be assessed at 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 during its 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.
For the program to be renewed, more than 50 percent of the producer votes cast, representing more than 50 percent of the total number of bushels represented on the cast ballots, must approve it.
For the purpose of this referendum, each producer, partnership, or corporation is entitled to one vote. All ballots must be filled out completely, signed, and postmarked by February 22, 2019, and should be sent to MDARD, Executive Office, P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909.
— Michigan Department of Agriculture
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