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 2018 budget is approximately $10 million. 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.
From 2006 through 2014, the marginal benefits of the Blueberry R&P Program were 9.07 times greater than the marginal costs 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 roster.
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.