The processed raspberries Research and Promotion (R&P) program – or the Processed Raspberry Promotion, Research, and Information Order – was operated by the National Processed Raspberry Council (Council). The program, which was authorized by the Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996, operated under AMS oversight. The purpose of the program was to maintain and expand existing markets and develop new markets for processed raspberry products.
Like all other R&P programs, the processed raspberry program was proposed by an industry group, the Washington Red Raspberry Commission (WRRC). On April 9, 2009, a proposed rule posted in the Federal Register set out to create the Order. WRRC recommended creating the program because State programs representing most of the domestic processed raspberry producers – WRRC and the Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission (ORBC) – were not able to generate enough funds to support marketing efforts to expand processed raspberry markets and increase the demand for these products on their own. International programs were facing the same challenges.
As proposed, this national program would support producers of raspberries for processing and importers of processed raspberries. The Council would administer the program with the help of thirteen board members and their alternates. The members consisted of domestic producers, importers, foreign producers, and a public member. The program would be financed by producers of raspberries for processing and importers of processed raspberries through an assessment of one cent per pound.
Referendum procedures were published in a separate proposed rule in the Federal Register on April 9, 2009. These procedures stated that a referendum would be held amongst eligible producers of raspberries for processing and importers of processed raspberries. The program would be implemented if it was favored by a simple majority of the eligible producers and importers voting in the referendum.
A February 8, 2010, proposed rule established a voting period of March 22, 2010, through April 2, 2010, for the first referendum. Procedures to conduct the referendum were memorialized in a final rule that was also published on February 8, 2010. However, a proposed rule requesting the delay of the referendum was published in the Federal Register on March 19, 2010. On May 5, 2011, a proposed rule announced a new referendum period of June 8-24, 2011. During the referendum, 88% of those voting favored implementation of the program.
After the industry affirmed its approval in the referendum, a final rule officially established the program on May 8, 2012. The rule directed USDA to conduct subsequent referendums at least every seven years to determine whether the industry favored continuing the program. A referendum could also be held if requested by 10 percent or more of all the eligible producers and importers, by request of the Council, or when the Secretary of Agriculture deems it necessary.
In March 2018, USDA received a petition for a referendum supported by more than the required 10 percent of eligible producers and importers. As such, a referendum took place from September – October 2018. In November 2018, USDA announced that only 43% of the eligible voters were in favor of continuing the program.
Following the vote, three Council members were nominated by their peers to serve as trustees to liquidate the organization’s affairs. After their official appointment by USDA in December 2018, the trustees worked to wind down the Council’s activities and fulfill its obligations. In February 2019, AMS published a rule in the Federal Register terminating the requirement to collect assessments under the Order. The rule became effective on February 21, 2019.
A final audit was completed in September 2019. Residual funds not needed to cover the costs of liquidating the program were turned over to USDA for distribution to one or more domestic raspberry industry organizations to continue a similar program. A final rule officially terminating the program was published in the Federal Register on September 24, 2019. The rule became effective on September 25, 2019.