More Importers Eligible to Serve on Watermelon Board Under USDA Proposal
The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service will hold a referendum Jan. 13-27, 2014, concerning a proposal that would allow additional parties to qualify as an importer member of the National Watermelon Promotion Board. This proposed rule, which was issued in February, would eliminate the requirement that to be able to serve as an importer member of the Board an importer who both imports and handles watermelons must import more than 50% of the total volume of watermelons it handles and imports. The Board administers a nationally coordinated program of research, development, advertising and promotion designed to strengthen the watermelon’s position in the marketplace and to establish, maintain and expand markets for watermelons.
To be eligible to vote in the referendum, persons must have produced, handled or imported watermelons during the representative period Jan. 1, through Dec. 31, 2012, and must currently be a producer, handler or importer of watermelons. Additionally, producers must be engaged in the growing of 10 acres or more of watermelons and importers must import 150,000 or more pounds of watermelons annually. Importers who import less than that amount but did not apply for and receive reimbursements of assessments during the representative period are also eligible to vote in the referendum.