The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service says it will conduct a referendum later this year for eligible domestic producers and importers of highbush blueberries on whether to continue the Blueberry Promotion, Research, and Information Order.
The program was developed to coordinate promotion, consumer information, and research to drive consumption of highbush blueberries in the U.S and internationally.
More than 98% of US blueberry production happens in just 10 states, spanning the country from coast to coast: Georgia and Florida are among those top blueberry growing states, along with Oregon, Washington, Michigan, California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Texas, and Minnesota.
Florida’s blueberry growers support over 2500 full-time jobs and generate an economic impact of $295 million, according to the Florida Blueberry Growers Association.
Quentin Roe grows blueberries at his family farm in Florida
Roe: “The blueberry industry is now a year-round industry. It’s north America and South America, within our hemisphere. The northern hemisphere blueberry market starts in Florida and it’s about a 6 to 8 week season so we’re in a very narrow little patch when there are really no other blueberries in the world that are coming in.
In Georgia, blueberries were originally planted as a replacement crop for tobacco. Today, they’re the No. 1 fruit produced in Georgia beating the peach with 18,328 acres producing 39 million pounds of blueberries valued at over $120 million.
The referendum will be held Oct. 8-22, 2021.
To vote in the referendum, producers and importers must have produced or imported 2,000 pounds or more of highbush blueberries Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, paid assessments during that period, and be subject to assessment under the program.