Michigan apple growers will vote between March 4 and 15 on whether to renew their assessments in support of the research, education, and market development efforts of the Michigan Apple Committee.

Current assessment rates have been in effect since 2003. Under rules of the state market order, a referendum must be held every five years. The program began in 1939.

Under the program, Michigan apples can be assessed at a rate of 52 cents a hundredweight for fresh apples, 28 cents for apples sold for processing, and 12 cents for apples sold for juice. Since 2005, however, the actual assessment rate has been 1 cent less in each category.

The money is allocated such that 4 cents in each category goes to research and 2 cents goes to the U.S. Apple Association. The remainder is used to fund dozens of Michigan Apple Committee programs—to work with retailers to boost sales, attend consumer food shows, create marketing tools for farm marketers, increase Michigan apple use by public schools and universities, target major markets in Detroit and Chicago, educate lawmakers and decision makers, pursue further funding for additional research projects, and many more.

The mission is to enhance the reputation of Michigan apples, improve their share of sales in target markets, and aid in the profitability of the Michigan apple industry, said Diane Smith, executive director.