April 19, 2013
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Michigan growers vote on apple, asparagus checkoffs

apples

Contact: Ken Nye, 800-292-2680, ext. 2020

LANSING, APRIL 19, 2013 — In the wake of Michigan apple growers' decision to continue their own commodity marketing program, the state's asparagus producers now face the same choice.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) this week announced the state's apple producers have voted to continue the Michigan Apple Advertising and Promotion Program in a statewide referendum of producers. By law the program must be reaffirmed every five years by a producer referendum, and is now extended through August 2018.

Michigan's apple program levies checkoff funds from growers to fund promotional activities, create new markets for apple products, and conduct market development and research.

This year's referendum saw 145 valid ballots cast; 124 producers (86 percent) voted yes, representing 1,887,643 hundredweight of apples—approximately 88 percent of the state crop.

Asparagus producers have until April 26 to vote on whether to continue the Michigan Asparagus Industry Development Program. MDARD mailed the referendum ballots to producers on April 11.

Developed to improve the economic position of the state's asparagus producers, the Michigan Asparagus Industry Development Program was last renewed in 2008. Growers must vote to reaffirm the program every five years.

Approval means growers will be assessed 1 3/4 cents ($.0175) per pound of asparagus harvested. The resulting revenue funds asparagus research, grower services, and marketing and promotion activities.

For the program to be renewed, more than 50 percent of the producer votes cast—representing more than 50 percent of the total number of pounds represented on the cast ballots—must approve it. Each producer, partnership or corporation is entitled to one vote. Completed ballots must be postmarked by April 26 and sent to MDARD, Executive Office, P.O. Box 30017, Lansing, MI 48909.

Asparagus growers with questions, or who didn't receive a ballot, should contact MDARD at 800-292-3939.

Michigan ranks third nationally in both apple and asparagus production.

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