Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns recently announced the appointment of 11 members to the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

Thomas A. Smith, a producer from LaBelle, Fla., District One, and two handlers, District One's William Robert Ward Jr., Lakeland, Fla., and Michael A. Caruthers, Immokalee, Fla., have been reappointed. Chandler Mack, a producer from Babson Park, Fla., District One, is a new appointee.

Three importers, Francisco Ramon Murillo Jr., Nogalez, Ariz.; Matthew J. Bradley III, McAllen, Texas; and Alan Guzi, Delray Beach, Fla., have been re-appointed. Three other importers, Jesus Enrique Lopez, Rio Rico, Ariz.; Michael Warren, Coral Springs, Fla.; and Mario W. Cardenas, Boca Raton Fla., are new appointees.

Maureen Ellis, Sterling, Va., is a new appointee to the board as a public member.

Each member's term will last for three years beginning immediately and ending on Dec. 31, 2008.

The producer and handler members were nominated, respectively, by producers and handlers. The public member was nominated by the board. Watermelon producers, handlers and importers finance the board's programs through assessments.

Authorized under the Watermelon Research and Promotion Act of 1985, the board administers an industry-funded national research and promotion program to maintain and expand markets for watermelon. USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service monitors the operations of the board.