US: Montana cherry growers vote to continue pest control 'check-off'

Montana's cherry growers are voting on whether to continue a "check-off" that funds market research, education and pest control for orchards around Flathead Lake.

The state Department of Agriculture mailed about 100 ballots to producers on Nov. 16. They are due back on Dec. 1.

State officials tell the Daily Inter Lake that a majority decision will be honoured, no matter how many ballots are returned.

The program started 15 years ago to combat an infestation of cherry fruit flies. It receives between $10,000 and $30,000 a year by collecting 0.5 percent of proceeds from growers' first point of sale. The first 300 pounds of cherries are exempt.

Supporters say the program is important, but others argue there's no mechanism to collect the money and that some growers don't contribute.

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