USDA Sets Dates for Referendum on Proposed Amendments to California Walnut Marketing Order

October 30, 2020

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a referendum Nov. 30 through Dec. 11, 2020, on proposed amendments to the federal marketing order regulating the handling of walnuts grown in California.

The proposed amendments would add authority for the California Walnut Board to provide credit for market promotion expenses paid by handlers against their annual assessments due under the program. The proposed amendments were submitted by the board and are based on the hearing record and evidence presented at a public hearing USDA held April 20-21, 2020.

The proposed amendments would become effective only if approved by two-thirds of the growers voting in the referendum, or by those representing at least two-thirds of the volume of walnuts grown by those voting in the referendum.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will mail ballots and voting instructions to all walnut growers of record in California. To be eligible to vote, a grower must have grown walnuts in California during the representative period of Sept. 1, 2018, through Aug. 31, 2019.

Eligible growers who have not received a ballot by Nov. 23, 2020, may request one from Terry Vawter or Jeffery Rymer, USDA, AMS, California Marketing Field Office; 559-487-5901; fax: 559-487-5906; or e-mail or

Notice of the referendum was published in the Federal Register on Oct. 20, 2020.

All comments to this recommended decision submitted by the deadline will be made available for public review and will be considered before a final rule is published.

More information about the marketing order is available on the AMS 984 California Walnut webpage, the AMS Marketing Orders and Agreements webpage or by contacting the Marketing Order and Agreement Division at (202) 720-2491.

Authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, marketing orders are industry-driven programs that help producers and handlers achieve marketing success by leveraging their own funds to design and execute programs that they would not be able to do individually. AMS provides oversight to 29 fruit vegetable and specialty crops marketing orders and agreements, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.

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