Fruits of Thought
The Watermelon Vote
The National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB) is holding a November referendum hoping to break the long tradition that commodity board assessments be marketing-channel neutral.
Under the rubric that everyone who profits from selling watermelons ought to pay to promote them, the NWPB is proposing to levy assessments not only on the grower/shipper level but also at the broker, wholesaler and processor level.
The argument is superficially appealing, and PRODUCE BUSINESS is giving the NWPB the chance to say its piece in a Q&A on page 14 of this issue. But this proposal is wrong and will hurt the trade. It should be defeated for the following reasons:
In the end, all assessments are costs of production and must be paid by consumers or the producers go out of business. In this sense as long as each piece of produce is assessed once, it doesn’t matter where in the marketing chain that occurs. However, one advantage of assessing growers and shippers is that the commodity is usually significant to them. So whereas a processor or a wholesaler, for whom watermelons are 1 or 2% of purchases, probably won’t pay much attention, the growers and shippers are the ones close enough to make real judgments about the efficacy of the program and whether they are getting a decent return on investment. If growers and shippers don’t think so, then the solution is to solve that problem, not to expand the assessments to people who don’t know and won’t care. pb