Two public hearings were held last week on the possibility of establishing a Michigan Tree Fruit Commission. The tree fruit commission is proposed as a new method of assessing fresh and processed cherries, apples, plums, and peaches, with a small amount of money earmarked for the support of Michigan research and Extension services.
The tree fruit commission intends to seek matching funds from the Michigan state legislature to increase the amount of money to support research efforts.
The commission has been created in response to declining resources for research and Extension efforts. Michigan fruit research stations have noticed a 50% loss of funding in operating budgets in the past 10 years. A similar assessment program has been established in Washington to benefit apple, cherry, and pear research and Extension efforts.
If the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission is established, a board of growers representing fruit-growing regions of Michigan would allocate funding based on prioritization of state, regional, and local needs of fruit research stations, research programs, and educational programs.
The tree fruit commission is a separate entity from established assessments for apples, cherries, peaches, and plums. The new assessment would not replace the commodity-assess funding supporting production and promotion research. The Michigan Tree Fruit Commission would assess growers on a sliding scale up to the following recommended maximum rates:
- Apples: up to $0.04/hundredweight, $0.0004 per pound
- Cherries: up to $2.50/ton, $0.00125 per pound
- Peaches: up to $2.00/ton, $0.001 per pound
- Plums: up to $4.5/ton, $0.00225 per pound
The information from the two public hearings will be compiled and given to the director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD). Director Clover-Adams will review the comments and decide if the Commission will be brought to a vote in early 2014. Interested parties unable to attend the hearings have until 5 p.m. on Dec. 18 to submit written testimony to Bradley Deacon, MDARD Hearings Officer, P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909. Comments may also be submitted to [email protected] or faxed to 517-335-1423.
To read more about the Michigan Tree Fruit Commission, click here.
Source: Michigan State University Extension bulletin