The Blackberry R&P Working Group seeks comments and suggestions from stakeholders in the blackberry industry, especially U.S. producers, on the draft proposal for a Blackberry Research and Promotion Program it has developed over the last few months. Your responses to this questionnaire will help the Working Group gauge support for the proposal and make improvements to this first draft. All responses are anonymous.
Some of the main points of the Proposal are summarized below. For more details on the proposal, see other files at http://www.raspberryblackberry.com/blackberryRandP/.
Key Features of the Draft Proposal
• The mission of the Blackberry Research and Promotion Program is “to increase awareness and consumption of blackberries.” The program would operate under the auspices of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and be financed entirely by industry assessments.
• Only fresh-market blackberries to be sold in the U.S. are included in the proposal at this time.
• The proposed threshold for domestic producers who would vote in the referendum and be assessed by this program is growers who produce and sell at least 30,000 lbs/year of fresh-market blackberries.
• All persons or entities importing any quantity of fresh-market blackberries into the U.S. would also vote and be assessed. There is no minimum threshold.
• Each eligible domestic producer and importer of blackberries is entitled to cast one ballot in the referendum. (Foreign producers do not vote.) The Working Group has proposed that the referendum must be approved both by at least 51% of producers and importers, representing at least 65% of production.
• The proposed Council is composed of 13 members, each serving 3-year terms:
5 grower members, one from each of the five leading fresh blackberry producing states
2 additional grower members, one Eastern and one Western
1 at-large member, who could be a grower, researcher, consumer representative, or other
3 blackberry importers
2 foreign producers
• The proposed assessment rate is $.01/lb (a penny per pound). It is estimated that at current production levels, this would raise between $1.25 million and 1.5 million annually.