Michigan’s apple, cherry, peach, and plum producers have approved a referendum to continue the Michigan Tree Fruit Research & Development Program, according to a press release from the state’s Department of Agriculture & Rural Development.
Established in April 2014, 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. The goal for this program is to keep Michigan’s tree fruit industry on the cutting edge of new technology as well as the implementation of new research that keeps Michigan’s farmers economically viable in the world market into the future.
The program is a public body independent of the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development. It is comprised of nine tree fruit producers appointed by the Governor. MDARD Director Gary McDowell and a person appointed by the Michigan State University Dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources are non-voting ex-officio members.
The program will continue for an additional five years, beginning April 1, and ending March 31, 2024. Michigan tree fruit may be assessed at a maximum rate of $2.50 per ton for cherries sold; $0.04 per CWT. for apples sold: $2.00 per ton for peaches sold; and $4.50 per ton for plums sold.
A total of 171 valid ballots were cast in the referendum. Of those, 120 producers voted yes (70%) representing 406 million pounds of apples, cherries, peaches, and plums (81%); and 51 producers voted no (30%) representing 95 million pounds (19%).
For renewal of the program and its activities, more than 50% of the voting producers, representing more than 50% of the production of those voting, must have approved it.