The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced that U.S. highbush blueberry producers and importers approved continuing their national research and promotion program. Industry representatives voted in a referendum held Oct. 8 through Oct. 22, 2021, by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).
In the referendum, 84% of producers and importers voting, who represented 93% of the volume of highbush blueberries voting in the referendum, were in favor of continuing the program. Over 50% of votes and over 50% of the volume voted were required for the program to continue.
To participate in the referendum, producers and importers had to produce or import at least 2,000 pounds of highbush blueberries and pay assessments during the representative period of Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, and must currently be subject to assessment under the program.
The Blueberry Promotion, Research and Information Order establishing the program requires USDA to conduct a referendum every five years to determine whether the industry was in favor of continuing the program. For the program to continue, producers and importers had to approve the program by a majority of producers and importers voting in the referendum, who also represent a majority of the volume represented in the referendum.
The blueberry research and promotion program is authorized under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996. The program was developed to administer an effective and coordinated program of generic promotion, consumer information and related research designed to drive consumption of highbush blueberries within the U.S and internationally. The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council has administered the program since 2001.
Since 1966, Congress has authorized the development of industry-funded research and promotion boards to provide a framework for agricultural industries to pool their resources and combine efforts to develop new markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities. The Agricultural Marketing Service provides oversight of 22 boards, paid for by industry assessments, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.
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