A U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) referendum scheduled for Jan. 13, 2014, through Jan. 27, 2014 will allow watermelon producers, handlers and importers to vote on amending the Watermelon Research and Promotion Plan importer eligibility requirements to serve on the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
The referendum is available for eligible watermelon producers, handlers and importers.
Producers must be engaged in growing 10 acres or more of watermelons and importers must import 150,000 or more pounds of watermelons annually. (www.ams.usda.gov/FVPromotion.)
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The amendment would allow persons who both import and handle watermelons to choose whether they would like to seek representation on the board as an importer or a handler. Currently, persons who both import and handle watermelons can only seek representation as an importer if the majority of their watermelons are imported.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will conduct the referendum by mail ballot. Ballots and voting instructions will be mailed on or before Jan. 6, 2014, to all eligible individuals who produced, handled or imported watermelons between Jan. 1, 2012, through Dec. 31, 2012, the representative period, and who currently produce, handle or import watermelons.
Producers must be engaged in growing 10 acres or more of watermelons and importers must import 150,000 or more pounds of watermelons annually. Importers who import less than 150,000 pounds of watermelons annually and did not apply for and receive reimbursements of assessments during the representative period are eligible to vote in the referendum.
Eligible producers, handlers or importers who do not receive a ballot by Jan. 13, 2014, should contact AMS referendum agent, Jeanette.Palmer@ams.usda.gov.
The Watermelon Research and Promotion Act requires that a referendum be conducted before changes to the plan go into effect and that the amendment be approved by a majority of producers, handlers and importers of watermelons voting in the referendum.
For more information please contact the Referendum Agent, Promotion and Economics Division, Fruit and Vegetable Program, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Room 1406-S, Stop 0244, Washington, D.C. 20250-0244; telephone: (202) 720-9915, (888) 720-9917 (toll free).Copies of the proposed amendment to the Watermelon Research and Promotion Plan can be viewed at www.regulations.gov.
Research and promotion programs help to expand, maintain and develop markets for individual commodities in the United States and abroad. They allow commodity groups to conduct promotion, market and production research, and new product development for the benefit of their industries. For more information about research and promotion programs, visit www.ams.usda.gov/FVPromotion.