Watermelon Research and Promotion Plan Referendum Scheduled [October 28, 2013, News Release
National Watermelon Promotion Board Holds March 9th, 2013 Convention to Nominate Producers and Handlers to Serve as District 4 Directors [March 9, 2013, News Release
National Watermelon Promotion Board Holds January 19th, 2013 Convention to Nominate Producers and Handlers to Serve as District 7 Directors [December 19, 2012, News Release
Watermelon Research and Promotion Plan; Importer Membership Requirements and Referendum Order; Redistricting and Importer Representation. Docket Number: AMS-FV-11-0031. Referendum Dates: January 13, 2014 through January 27, 2014. [Proposed Rule
] [News Release
The Watermelon Research and Promotion Plan (Plan) [7 CFR Part 1210] is authorized by the Watermelon Research and Promotion Act of 1985 (Act) [7 U.S.C. 4901-4916]. After notice and comment rulemaking and a referendum in early 1989 in which producers and handlers approved the program, the Plan became effective June 8, 1989. Implementing regulations became effective on April 10, 1990.
The Act was amended in late 1993 to: increase the exemption from assessments to producers of less than 10 acres; eliminate refunds; authorize assessments on imports; add importer members to the National Watermelon Promotion Board (Board); change the eligibility requirements for producer members on the Board; change the voting criteria for referenda; and extend the production area covered by the Act to all 50 states. A referendum on refunds and imports was held in November 1994. During the referendum, producers, handlers, and importers voted to eliminate refunds and implement assessments on imports. These changes were incorporated into the Plan and applicable rules and regulations in February 1995. In 2001, the Board recommended changing the Plan to allow all handlers, including brokers, wholesalers, and fresh-cut processors, to pay assessments. A referendum was conducted in 2002. The amendment was not approved.
Under the Plan, the Board conducts promotional, consumer information, and industry information programs under AMS supervision. To fund these activities, producers and handlers each pay 3 cents per hundredweight (cwt.) on domestic watermelons, and importers pay 6 cents per cwt. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection collects the import assessments.
No assessments are levied on watermelons grown by producers with fewer than 10 acres in watermelon production. Importers of less than 150,000 pounds of watermelons annually may request reimbursement of their assessments.
The Board's budget for the period from April 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014, is approximately $3.2 million. Assessments are expected to total $2.7 million, with assessments on imports accounting for 30 percent of the total. The Board is also expected to receive $299,810 from the Foreign Agricultural Service. The Board reimburses the federal government for expenses incurred in administering the program.
The 37-member Board is composed of 14 producers, 14 handlers, 8 importers, and 1 public member. For the purpose of nominations, the production area is divided into seven districts of approximately equal production. Each district is represented by two handlers and two producers on the Board. Producer members are nominated by producers, and handler members are nominated by handlers. Importer members are nominated by importers. The public member is nominated by the Board. The full Board meets twice yearly to develop and review programs and policy. The executive and program committees meet as necessary.
The Board’s office is located in Orlando, Florida. It has seven full-time employees.