Good Fruit Grower

February 1

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Tart cherry market order renewal Growers will vote in March. by Richard Lehnert he federal marketing order governing the United States tart cherry industry comes up for its mandatory five-year renewal referendum this year, and industry leaders are turning out to encourage a positive vote. There's no real reason to think growers won't vote yes, says Randy Willmeng, Watervliet, Michigan, one of 18 members of the Cherry Industry Administrative Board. But he wants to hear what they're thinking and if they have concerns. Willmeng represents growers in southern Michigan on the CIAB board. Willmeng spoke to growers during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable, and Farm Market Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and then headed for T Traverse City, where four town hallstyle meetings were to be held the following week. The referendum was also scheduled for discussion in January at an annual cherry industry get-together in Traverse City. Michigan grows about three-fourths of the nation's tart cherries, with the rest of the commercial crop coming from New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Utah, Washington, and Oregon. Willmeng, with his son Marc, has 100 acres of Montmorency tart cherries on their century-old family farm. The federal marketing order is an instrument of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which will conduct the vote in March, Willmeng said, although exact dates have not been announced. Changed "We want to build our supplies, not restrict them. We want to get our market back." Willmeng wants to make sure growers know how the order has changed in recent years. "It has gone from a restric—Randy Willmeng tive order to a promotion order," he said. By that he means, the CIAB board used to try to prevent low prices to growers caused by huge crops in some years by removing crop from market. Now, it also tries to encourage greater sales and market expansion. The Cherry Industry Administrative Board collects $10 per ton and raises about $1.25 million in a normal year. The Cherry Marketing Institute also raises money in Michigan, under a state order that also assesses cherry growers $10 a ton. Those two sources of funds, plus contributions from other states and $120,000 from Ontario, generated enough funds for a promotion budget of $1.6 million this year, plus funds for research and other uses. Since 2005, the industry has been sponsoring research to discover and document the health benefits of consuming tart cherries. The CIAB's major function is to match supply to demand. It can set a restriction on how many cherries can be marketed in a big crop year. Processors have the option of processing and storing surplus cherries, and these become part of a pool that can't be sold without board approval. Since big crops are often followed by small crops, even crop failures, the cherries in the pool serve as a reserve supply for marketers. 10 FEBRUARY 1, 2014 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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