Members of the Washington Growers Clearing House Association’s board of directors voted at their annual meeting  to move forward with a member ballot on a proposed new industry organization.

The proposed consolidation involves four industry organizations: the Washington State Horticultural Association, the Yakima Valley Growers-Shippers Association, and the Wenatchee Valley Traffic Association, as well as the Clearing House.

Board members on Feb. 20 voted unanimously to accept a draft outline of the new Washington State Tree Fruit Association, though they still have some questions that need to be resolved. For example, will voting rights in the new organization be based on one vote per grower or one vote per orchard entity? If a business has three partners, would all three have a vote? If a grower has orchards in both the north and south districts of the association, would he or she get two votes?

Now that the Washington Growers Clearing House  has accepted the outline, the task force will meet to discuss any concerns the other groups may have before the four participating associations formally accept an organization outline.

Kirk Mayer, Clearing House manager, said the association will mail the board’s recommendation with a ballot to its members asking them whether they favor consolidation or not. The ballot will likely go out in April and Mayer hopes to be able to announce the result by May 1.

The Clearing House has 2,170 members. Of those, about 850 have signed membership agreements entitling them to vote in the ballot. Mayer said members who haven’t signed the agreement can download it from the association’s Web site and mail it in so they will be entitled to vote.

Jon DeVaney, executive director of the Yakima Growers-Shippers Association, said the Task Force is updating the outline of the new organization based on feedback from all the organizations. Only the Clearing House is balloting its members. Decisions of the other organizations will be based on the votes of their boards.