The state’s blueberry producers approved a referendum establishing a Michigan Blueberry Research & Education Program effective May 1.
The program will be administered by a new Michigan Blueberry Commission, which will be compromised of seven Michigan blueberry producers appointed by Governor Rick Snyder.
The program will be fully funded by assessments on blueberries with a maximum assessment of up to three tenths of a cent per pound of blueberries sold. The effective date is May 1, 2017.
“Michigan’s Blueberry Industry has really stepped up to the plate in making sure future crops are backed by grower industry funded research and education,” said Kevin Robson, Michigan Farm Bureau’s horticulture specialist
“The blueberry industry will join the efforts of countless other commodities who have made the same promise: to unite as an industry and to fund industry wide projects.”
The program was proposed by blueberry producers to help improve the economic position and competitiveness of Michigan’s blueberry industry by supporting research. The goal for this program is to keep Michigan’s blueberry industry on the cutting edge of new technology, as well as to implement new research keeping the state’s farmers economically competitive in the growing world market.
“The Michigan Blueberry Advisory Committee, MDARD, along with other supporters met regularly for the last two years, putting forth an undeniable amount of effort, for the betterment of the industry,” Robson said.
“Michigan Farm Bureau’s Policy number 1 supports industries like the blueberry folks in forming a check-off program under the 1965 Commodities and Marketing Act of 1965 PA 232,” he said.
Of the 82 ballots received, 61 producers voted yes (74 percent) representing over 36 million pounds (73 percent), and 21 producers voted no (26 percent) representing over 13,000,000 pounds (27 percent).
For the program to be adopted, more than 50 percent of the producer votes cast and more than 50 percent of the total production amount represented on the cast ballot must approve the proposal. The referendum was conducted from Jan. 9 through Jan. 20, 2017.