(July 29, 1:15 p.m.) After two years under the direction of Alex Ott, president of the California Apple Commission, Fresno, Calif., two programs overseeing kiwifruit marketing orders and promotions could break out on their own again.

“They would like to bring back together the commission and the committee under one management in an effort to streamline some of the duplication,” Ott said.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture seized all program records for the commission and the committee in August 2006 after an audit by the Agriculture Marketing Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture revealed state and federal funds had been co-mingled. The USDA removed committee manager Lindy LaFrancis and she resigned as president of the commission.

In September 2006, the commission’s board of directors voted to retain the California Apple Commission’s staff to oversee the kiwifruit program.

It was a three-year agreement, Ott said, but the agreement also contained a 120-day notice of termination. The apple commission staff is now administering the kiwifruit program on a month-to-month basis, he said.

The kiwifruit groups are accepting proposals through Aug. 11. Finalists for the contract will be invited to meet with members of the board of directors Aug. 20. The apple commission was asked to submit a proposal, but Ott said it will not bid.

“I would say the joint management agreement is the next phase in bringing together the kiwifruit industry and to accomplish the goals that the industry is seeking,” Ott said.

Grower-shippers recently approved a five-year extension for the California Kiwifruit Commission, with 70% of the voting grower-shippers in favor of continuing it. California law requires each state commission to hold a referendum every five years.