Watermelon producers, handlers and importers will vote in January on proposed changes to the Watermelon Research and Promotion Plan’s importer eligibility requirements.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a scheduled a mail referendum Jan. 13-27 according to a news release from the agency.

The change would allow importer-handlers of watermelons to choose whether they would like to seek representation on the board as an importer or a handler. Currently, importer-handlers can be desginated as an importer on the board only if the majority of their watermelons are imported, according to the release.

To vote in the referendum, growers must have 10 acres or more of watermelons and importers must import 150,000 or more pounds of watermelons annually, according to the release.

Importers who handle less than 150,000 pounds of imported watermelons annually and did not apply for and receive reimbursements of assessments during the representative period also can vote, according to the release.

Eligible producers, handlers or importers who do not receive a ballot by Jan. 13 should contact the USDA at Jeanette.Palmer@ams.usda.gov.

The proposed amendment is available online.