It’s a New Year and time to update Pecan Stakeholders on the status of the Federal Marketing Order for Pecans. As was reported earlier, the Secretary of Agriculture released his preliminary recommendation in late October. The release in the Federal Register was based on the testimony of 55 witnesses who supported the need for increased demand for pecans and who demonstrated to USDA that a marketing order is one of the best tools to achieve that goal for the industry.
Public Comment: Following the USDA’s recommendation, the law requires a period of public comment. During that time period, which has ended, no public comments were made. Therefore, no new evidence was presented to USDA that should substantially alter the order published in the Federal Register in October. A final rule from USDA should be forthcoming any day now.
Grower Referendum: After the USDA issues its final rule, the next step is the calling by USDA of a Referendum where pecan growers have the opportunity to vote on the acceptance of the FMO. According to the expedited schedule initiated by USDA, this vote can take place as early as the first quarter of this year. A favorable vote by growers will cause the process to proceed to the next step, the selection of 17 persons as members of an administrative body, the American Pecan Council.
Financial Support: At the beginning of the process, the American Pecan Board asked for financial contributions from the pecan industry to help support the necessary expenses associated with the industry-wide effort. Generous contributions came in from across the pecan belt from growers, shellers, and vendors. Cash donations amounted to almost $200,000. The nine-member American Pecan Board, all volunteers, contributed their out-of-pocket expenses of another $114,000. During all of last year, APB’s attorneys contributed pro bono their time to the tune of $944,000. Lastly, the APB board volunteered their time in travel, preparations, speaking engagements, and meetings that totaled over 250 days.
Needless to say, stakeholders have demonstrated support for the FMO, believing it to be important to the future of the industry.
Request for Additional Funds: The multi-month effort, particularly during the hearing process, has rendered APB’s bank account almost depleted. The Board understands that it has come a long way toward achieving the goal, but there is work left to do. Finishing will take additional funds. Two specific tasks that will require money are expenses associated with the Grower Referendum and the Council Selection process. Therefore, the Board is asking Pecan Stakeholders for additional financial help. If willing and able, please send a contribution to support the effort to: The American Pecan Board, 10600 State Hwy 21 E, Caldwell, Texas 77836. The APB is classified by the IRS as a 501(c) 6 organization; therefore, the contribution is deductible as a business expense.
The APB is encouraged by the positive support and cooperation by all segments of the industry. “Pulling in the same direction” will result in a common goal of increasing demand for pecans. The recent television ads by the California Walnut Board are examples of what a well funded industry can do to move the demand needle forward. The future is bright for pecans.