Washington cherry growers: Check your mailbox! Ballots for the continuance referendum on the Washington Cherry Marketing Committee are in the mail.

Established under a federal marketing order in 1957, the Washington Cherry Marketing Committee sets grade and pack standards for sweet cherries grown in the state. A continuance referendum is required every five years.

The committee’s budget runs between $20,000 and $30,000, according to B.J. Thurlby, the president of the Washington State Fruit Commission who also serves as manager of the marketing committee. Though small, the committee serves an important role in the industry by setting standards and adapting to midseason needs, if necessary, he said. 

“The committee exists to serve as the only group that could change pack requirements if there is an industry emergency or national disaster that would afflict that state’s cherry crop,” he said. 

The 16-member committee includes 10 producers and six handlers who all serve two-year terms. 

by Kate Prengaman