The blueberry industry’s national research and promotion program has been okayed for another five years.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that U.S. highbush blueberry producers and importers approved continuing their national research and promotion program.
Industry representatives voted in a referendum held by the USDA from Oct. 8 through Oct. 22 this year.
In the referendum, 84% of producers and importers voting, who represented 93% of the volume of highbush blueberries voting in the referendum, were in favor of continuing the program, according to a news release. Over 50% of votes and over 50% of the volume voted were required for the program to continue, the USDA said.
To participate in the referendum, producers and importers had to produce or import at least 2,000 pounds of highbush blueberries and pay assessments during 2020 and must currently be subject to assessment under the program.
The Blueberry Promotion, Research and Information Order requires USDA to conduct a referendum every five years to determine whether the industry was in favor of continuing the program.
The blueberry research and promotion program is authorized under the Commodity Promotion, Research and Information Act of 1996, according to the USDA. The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council has administered the program since 2001.
The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council issued a statement about the referendum result.
“We’re thrilled that the blueberry industry has voted to continue the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council’s important work through the next five years. Thank you to all our growers and importers of record who took the time and effort to vote.
With this new mandate of support, we will embrace the confidence you’ve placed in the council and use it to power the future growth of the blueberry industry. We’re excited for the collaboration ahead as we journey toward achieving our new vision of making blueberries the world’s favorite fruit.
For the growers and importers of record who voted no, we appreciate you as well. We care about the success of all; our mission to grow consumer demand for blueberries includes supporting you, too, and strengthening your ability to compete in the global marketplace. We promise to continue to reach out, listen to your ideas and concerns, and use your feedback to improve and grow our programs.”
USHBC recently announced details of the approved 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, which details how USHBC will lead demand-driving programs based on shared resources, research and insights that inspire possibilities and sustain the profitable growth of the blueberry industry. The plan, according to a news release, is built on five strategic pillars: integrated marketing communications, health and nutrition, industry services, global business development, and innovation and technology.