The blueberry R&P program operates as the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council. The program's purpose is to strengthen the blueberry industry’s position in the marketplace. The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council administers the program, which is composed of blueberry industry representatives nominated by their peers and appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture.
The Council’s operations are industry-funded by an assessment of $18 per ton collected on highbush blueberries produced in and imported into the United States. The assessment is paid by producers and importers of 2,000 or more pounds of blueberries annually. First handlers remit the producer assessment to the Council, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection collects the import assessment.
The Council’s budget is used to conduct general promotion and market development activities in the United States and abroad under AMS oversight. That funding is used to conduct general promotion and market development activities in the United States and abroad under AMS oversight. The Council reimburses AMS and USDA’s Office of General Counsel for expenses incurred in the oversight of the program.
In 2000, AMS issued the Blueberry Promotion, Research, and Information Order, which created the program under the authority of the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996 (pdf).
Organization of the Blueberry Council
The Council is composed of 20 members, including 12 producers (one from each of four regions and one from each of the top eight highbush blueberry producing States); four importers; two foreign exporters; one first handler; and one public member. Each member has an alternate. Council members are appointed to 3-year terms and may be reappointed. Nominees for producer positions are selected by producers in each respective State and/or region. Nominees for the other positions are recommended by the Council. The Council is located in Folsom, California. You can access a listing of current Council members on the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council website.
AMS Policy on Council Diversity: AMS policy is that the diversity of the council should reflect the diversity of their industries in experience of members, methods of production and distribution, marketing strategies, and other distinguishing factors that will bring different perspectives and ideas to the table. When submitting nominations, the industry must consider the diversity of the population served and the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the members to serve a diverse population.
Organic Assessment Exemption
R&P programs allow persons that produce, handle, market, process, manufacture, feed or import “organic” and “100 percent organic” products to be exempt from paying assessments regardless of whether they are a “split” operation.