Referendum Set for Proposed Amendments to Marketing Order for Citrus Grown in Florida

Randall Weiseman Citrus, Florida, Fruits, Specialty Crops

From the Agricultural Marketing Service:

usda-amsWASHINGTON, July 20, 2015 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will conduct a referendum on proposed amendments to the federal marketing order regulating the handling of fresh citrus produced in Florida.

The referendum will be held from Sept. 14 to Oct. 5, 2015, to determine support for the amendments. Ballot material will be mailed to all known citrus growers in Florida. To be eligible to vote, a grower must have produced oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, or tangelos in Florida during the representative period of Aug. 1, 2014, through July 31, 2015.

The proposed amendments are based on the hearing record and evidence presented at a public hearing held by USDA on April 24, 2013, in Winter Haven, Fla. The proposed amendments submitted by the Citrus Administrative Committee, which administers the order locally, include:

* Authorize the regulation of new varieties and hybrids of citrus fruit;
* Authorize the regulation of intrastate shipments of fruit;
* Revise the process for redistricting the production area;
* Change the term of office and tenure requirements for committee members;
* Authorize mail balloting procedures for committee membership nominations;
* Increase the capacity of financial reserve funds;
* Authorize pack and container requirements for domestic shipments and authorize different regulations for different markets;
* Eliminate the use of separate acceptance statements in the nomination process; and,
* Require handlers to register with the committee.

Notice of the referendum will be published in the July 21, 2015, Federal Register. USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service will mail ballots and voting instructions to all growers of record. Eligible growers not receiving ballots may request them from Christian Nissen, USDA, AMS, Southeast Marketing Field Office, 1124 First Street South, Winter Haven, Fla. 33880; telephone: (863) 324-3375; or fax: (863) 291-8614.

The proposed amendments would become effective only if approved by either two-thirds of the growers voting in the referendum, or by those representing at least two-thirds of the volume of fresh citrus grown by those voting in the referendum. Authority for federal marketing orders rests in the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937.