I had the chance to chat on March 29 with Barry Bedwell, president of the Fresno-based California Grape and Tree Fruit League.
3:00 p.m. Tom Karst: I’m interested in your take in the marketing order development with California peaches and nectarines, with the referendum vote falling short of what they need to continue.
3:01 p.m. Barry Bedwell: I certainly feel that there are going to be needs of the industry that still must be addressed. While this unfortunately didn’t go through, it does not take away some of the areas that certainly growers are still going to be looking for. Those include things outside pure marketing and promotion. They certainly include (issues like) how do you coordinate research, how do you coordinate certain trade activities, how are you going to deal potentially in crisis management situations, how are you going to get the statistical information you need. My hope is that I can sit down with Gary (Van Sickle of CTFA) somewhat in the near future and talk about some of those things and say how can we best meet the needs of the tree fruit community as we move ahead. Just because vote didn’t pass doesn’t mean that there is still not going to be these needs out there.
3:03 p.m. Karst: Do you think your group would be in a position to help fulfill some of those needs?
3:03 p.m. Bedwell: I think logically, yes. I think we have to look at it. Given our work in various areas, we need to see how we can best and efficiently manage these issues for the benefit of our members and the industry. We are already involved, for instance, in managing the export program to Mexico. What can we do for other areas of tree fruit? We are already involved in certain areas of research and trying to coordinate some of that. This will be a conversation for our leadership, our executive committee and board of directors, but first I want to get a good idea of how this will play out over the next four to six months and then determine what is the best and most efficient course for the industry.
3:05 p.m. Karst: Has the (CTFA) indicated how long the peach and nectarine orders will continue?
3:06 p.m. Bedwell: From what I have heard it will take a matter of months. I have heard anywhere between three and six months. I guess my other thought is, what is going to happen with the plum marketing order? Will they continue to go ahead and administer that or will something change there? I think that we want to try to understand what services may be needed out there and what we can do to assist.