The watermelon R&P program operates as the National Watermelon Promotion Board. The program's purpose is to maintain and expand existing markets and develop new markets for fresh watermelon. The program is administered under AMS oversight by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, which is composed of the watermelon industry – producers, handlers and importers nominated by their peers and appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. The Board conducts promotional, consumer information, and industry information programs. To fund these activities, producers and handlers each pay 3 cents per hundredweight (cwt.) on domestic watermelons, and importers pay 6 cents per cwt. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection collects the import assessments.
No assessments are levied on watermelons grown by producers with fewer than 10 acres in watermelon production. Importers of less than 150,000 pounds of watermelons annually may request reimbursement of their assessments.
The Board's budget for the period from April 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017, is approximately $3.4 million. Assessments are expected to total $3.2 million, with assessments on imports accounting for approximately 33 percent of the total. The Board is also expected to receive $200,000 from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. The Board reimburses the Federal government for expenses incurred in administering the program.
The 37-member Board is composed of 14 producers, 14 handlers, 8 importers, and 1 public member. For the purpose of nominations, the production area is divided into seven districts of approximately equal production. Each district is represented by two handlers and two producers on the Board. Producer members are nominated by producers, and handler members are nominated by handlers. Importer members are nominated by importers. The public member is nominated by the Board. The full Board meets twice yearly to develop and review programs and policy. The executive and program committees meet as necessary.
The Board’s office is located in Winter Spring, Florida. It has seven full-time employees. You can access a listing of current Board members and alternates on the Watermelon Board roster (pdf).
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.