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The Washington State Department of Agriculture plans to require Washington apple shippers to submit season-end reports on the volume of fruit they shipped.

Shippers are required to submit to the Department of Agriculture a certificate of compliance for each load as it is shipped. This is entered into the department’s computer database.

The Washington Apple Commission collects an assessment of 3.5 cents per box, based on those numbers.

Cameron Crump, the department’s fruit and vegetable administrator, said it works on an honor system and there is no mechanism for confirming that the volume being reported is correct.

The need for verification became evident last year when Borton & Sons, Inc., of Yakima, Washington, was found to have underreported the volumes of apples it shipped.

Crump said the new rule will require shippers to submit end-of-year reports summarizing their shipments for the year, which will be compared with the certificate of compliance data to see if there’s a discrepancy.

However, this also will be done on an honor system.

“If there’s somebody on the shipping dock that hasn’t been trained properly and hasn’t entered certificates of compliance for specific shipments, that kind of thing will be caught earlier,” she said. “But if people want to cheat, I don’t think there’s a way to stop them without some kind of a random audit every year, and no one really wants to see that happen.”

Hearings to receive industry input will be held before the rule goes into effect, probably for the 2015 crop year.