Marketing Order Referendum For Tart Cherries Scheduled

The 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, and Wisconsin.

The referendum, scheduled for March 19-30, 2012, 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 March 5, 2012, Federal Register. 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 phone at 863-324-3375, or fax at 863-325-8793.

The proposed amendments become effective if approved by two-thirds of growers voting, or by those voting in the referendum representing at least two-thirds of the volume of cherries. Additionally, processors who have processed more than 50% of the total volume of tart cherries during a representative period must also approve the amendments.

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