The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will conduct a referendum May 11 through June 1, 2020, on proposed amendments to the federal marketing order regulating the handling of tomatoes grown in Florida. The proposed amendments would reduce membership of the Florida Tomato Committee from 12 to 10, extend the length of the terms of office for members and alternates from one to two years, and reduce the quorum requirements from eight to six. The proposed amendments will become effective if approved by two-thirds of the growers voting in the referendum or by those representing at least two-thirds of the volume of tomatoes grown by those voting in the referendum.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will mail ballots and voting instructions to all growers of record in Florida. To be eligible to vote, a grower must have produced tomatoes grown in Florida from Oct. 1, 2018, through Sept. 30, 2019. Eligible growers who have not received a ballot may request one by calling (863) 324–3375, faxing (863) 291–8614 or mailing the request to Southeast Florida Marketing Field Office, Marketing Order and Agreement Division, Specialty Crops Program, AMS, USDA, 1124 1st Street South, Winter Haven, FL 33880.
Notice of the referendum was published in the Federal Register on Feb. 21, 2020.
Authorized by the Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, marketing orders are industry-driven programs that help producers and handlers achieve marketing success by leveraging their own funds to design and execute programs that they would not be able to do individually. AMS provides oversight to 29 fruit vegetable and specialty crops marketing orders, which helps ensure fiscal accountability and program integrity.