Voting concludes today for tart cherry growers deciding whether they want a controlled market for their fruit. The votes will be counted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
For the first time in decades, there appears to be some chance growers could end the complex restrictions on the sale of tart cherries and choose a free and open market instead.
The current marketing order allows an industry board to limit the sale of tart cherries to keep prices stable. Some growers have complained about having to destroy fruit, especially in 2009 when the cherry crop was enormous.
Ben LaCross is taking over his family’s farm in Leelanau County and supports the marketing order. LaCross says young growers can’t get a start in the business if the price of tart cherries fluctuates wildly.
“That doesn’t allow a younger person to sit down and create a viable business plan,” he says.
Most of the nation’s tart cherries are grown along the shore of Lake Michigan from Oceana County to Charlevoix County.