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No fee bump for blueberries

The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council has decided not to seek an assessment increase.

The council was considering asking USDA to increase its assessment from $12 a ton to $18. But after talking with growers, council members at a meeting in San Francisco earlier this month decided not to go forward with the proposal.

The council in 2009 voted to double its $12-a-ton assessment. After several comments in opposition, the USDA in February, 2010, denied the request.

The 2009 proposal came in response to a dramatic increase in blueberry production as the council sought to increase market promotion.

North American highbush blueberry acreage grew from 71,000 acres in 2005 to more than 95,000 in 2007. U.S. acreage continues to expand, particularly in the West and Southeast.

-- Mitch Lies

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