Helena, Mont. – Montana’s cherry growers will have the opportunity to make their voice heard in the coming weeks. The Montana Department of Agriculture is submitting a referendum to all known growers and producers of cherries in Montana to determine whether to continue the Montana Cherry Research & Market Development Program, commonly known as the cherry checkoff. Paper ballots will be mailed on Thursday, November 16, 2017 and must be returned via postage-paid envelope by Friday, Dec. 1, 2017.
A public hearing was held on September 14, 2017 at the Kwa Tuq Nuk Resort in Polson, Mont. to gather grower input on the efficacy of the program. Having received feedback both for and against continuation of the program, MDA Director Ben Thomas has elected to put the final decision in the hands of Montana’s cherry growers.
“This is a decision that needs to be made by the growers and the participants in the program,” said Thomas. “I felt that surveying the growers was the fairest way to arrive at a conclusion.”
The Montana Cherry Research & Market Development Program was created by a vote of cherry producers following a process outlined in the Agricultural Commodity Research and Market Development Enabling Act (MCA 80-11-5). The Cherry program is administered by MDA, which receives advice from the five-member Montana Cherry Advisory Committee. The committee invites proposals to fund demonstration projects, applied research, and market development projects designed to address Montana’s cherry industry needs and opportunities.