RALEIGH — North Carolina strawberry growers will hold a referendum to decide whether to increase the current strawberry assessment during the Southeast Strawberry Expo in Pinehurst Nov. 17-19.
Started in 1989, the strawberry assessment is used to advance strawberry research and marketing to improve the industry. Dexter Hill, strawberry marketing specialist with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, says the funds are vital to research in the region.
“Funds collected through this assessment go directly to research and marketing efforts,” Hill said. “The funds also are leveraged with other resources, such as matching grants, to maximize their impact for the strawberry industry in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast.”
The current assessment is $3 per 1,000 plants for all strawberry plants purchased for commercial fruit production, including plants that nurseries use for their own fruiting needs. At the referendum, growers will be asked to increase the assessment to $4 per 1,000 plants.
To be eligible to vote, a person must be at least 18 and currently raising strawberries for commercial production in North Carolina. Voters can be plant growers, fruit producers, tenant farmers, farm partners or farm managers. Growers can cast their ballot during the Southeast Strawberry Expo. A final count will be taken on Nov. 19.
Those unable to attend the expo may vote by absentee ballot. Growers wishing to vote by absentee ballot should visit www.ncstrawberry.com for a downloadable form. Absentee ballots can be mailed to N.C. Strawberry Association-Ballots, P.O. Box 2287, Apex, NC 27502, and must be received by Nov. 10.