Feb 12, 2014
USDA seeks watermelon board nominees

USDA is seeking nominations for the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Applications for 13 open seats are due by June 2.

The 37-member board includes producers, first handlers and importers nominated by their peers, and one member nominated by the board to represent the public. Currently, the board is looking to fill eight importer seats and the public member seat. Two producer and two handler seats in district one are also open. District one covers Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Collier, Dade, Desoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Monroe, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie and Volusia counties in Florida. Producer and handler members from other districts will be selected in upcoming years.

Watermelon first handlers and producers growing 10 or more acres are eligible for board nomination. Selected members will serve three-year terms of office.

In February, USDA announced that watermelon producers, handlers and importers voted to amend the Watermelon Research and Promotion Plan importer eligibility requirements for service on the National Watermelon Promotion Board.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service conducted the referendum Jan. 13 through Jan. 27. Ballots were mailed to all eligible individuals who produced, handled or imported watermelons between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2012 – the representative period – and who currently produce, handle or import watermelons.

In the referendum, 74 percent of those voting favored amending the plan. The amendment allows persons who both import and handle watermelons to choose whether they would like to seek representation on the board as an importer or a handler.

The Watermelon Research and Promotion Act requires that a referendum be conducted before changes to the plan go into effect, and that the amendment be approved by a majority of producers, handlers and importers of watermelons voting in the referendum.

For more information or a nomination form, call Rebekah Dossett or Andrea Smith at 877-599-9595.

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