Stone Fruit Grower Settles Free Speech Lawsuit

The California Tree Fruit Agreement (CTFA) is reportedly receiving up to $1.8 million in the wake of a settlement of a lawsuit by Gerawan Farming regarding assessments. In 2001, Gerawan Farming filed the suit, contending that mandatory assessments to pay for advertising and promotion of tree fruit violated the Parlier, CA, grower’s right to freedom of speech. In the ensuing years, Gerawan has been witholding half of its CTFA assessments, and the money was held in an escrow account.

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Neither Dan Gerawan nor his attorney, Brian Leighton, could be reached this week for comment. Sheri Mireau, the president of CTFA, said she could not discuss the specifics of the settlement. However she did say that at a recent CTFA meeting it was agreed that such assessment funds would not be spent on advertising but for emergency situations.

For example, Mireau said that $500,000 would be allocated for a crisis research contingency fund that could pay for such things as eradication of the Light Brown Apple Moth, if the pest were to invade the San Joaquin Valley. In addition, $100,000 would be allocated for a crisis management contingency fund to pay for such things as public relations. Any balance, she said, would be carried over to “ultimately reduce assessments.”