The National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., seeks to increase assessments on its members.

“We put together a proposal to increase the assessment rate from half a cent to three-quarters of a cent,” said William Watson, executive director.

A two-month comment period expired at the end of July.

“We probably won’t get a decision from them until maybe September or October,” Watson said.

“Most likely, the increase would begin at the first of the year, but I just don’t know.”

An increase would provide a boost of $1 million to $1.5 million, Watson estimated.

“Clearly, that’s going to give us more resources to promote mangoes,” he said. “It’s a pretty good kick in the pants.”

As it is, the board typically raises $3.5 million to $3.7 million per year through assessments, Watson said.

“All growers have to pay it, not only the ones that ship into the U.S. but also the growers in California and some of the larger places in Florida,” he said.

Some players in the industry were not expecting the request for a higher fee, said Chris Ciruli, partner in Amex Distributing Co./Ciruli Bros., Rio Rico, Ariz.

“I think the average person was surprised,” Ciruli said.

“We didn’t realize that the board alone had that type of power to raise the rates. If you’d ask most members, they would have thought it would have been a referendum of the total industry. The case is we wrote the bylaws and, according to the bylaws, they were able to make that increase.”

Ciruli said he wouldn’t be shocked to see the assessment go up.

“I think they’re going to go ahead and make that,” he said.

“They’re going to have a meeting sometime in September. We’d like to see that go back to the stores, the actual retailers in the vending arena.”

A higher fee wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing — as long as the money is invested wisely, said Gary Clevenger, managing member and co-founder of Freska Produce International LLC, Oxnard, Calif.

“I think it’s let’s see how the money gets spent,” he said.

“Based on how they’re purporting the money gets spent, it will be more into promotion and research and things like that. If the money gets used wisely, it will be good for the industry.”