The Cherry Industry Administrative Board (CIAB) has been around since 1996. The fate of its future will be decided by a vote of tart cherry growers and handlers.
Every six years, the CIAB sends ballots to growers and handlers in seven states, including Michigan. The voters determine if they want to continue to have a federal marketing order.
Mollie Woods, executive director of CIAB, says they are one of 40 federal marketing orders in the U.S.
“We actually fund all the health benefits research on tart cherries in the United States,” she said. “We fund the majority of the promotion program, so marketing and public relations about tart cherries to try and educate people and try to get them to eat more. We’re also unique—we’re one of three orders that has the authority to practice supply management.”
The ballots that will be send out are simple. They will be mailed out by the USDA and growers and handlers will either have to vote if they want to continue with the marketing order or not. USDA will consider continuing the marketing order if at least 50 percent vote in favor.
“The ballots will come out early March, and they’ll have two weeks to get those ballots back to USDA, so it’s important they vote,” said Woods.
Growers and handlers should receive your ballots by next week. USDA will start counting the votes in April, but the CIAB won’t hear a final decision until June.