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During an 11-day period in March, first handlers and importers of fresh mangos voted to continue the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Mango Promotion, Research & Information Order for an additional five years.

In the referendum, 73 percent of those who voted favored the continuation of the order. Any current first handler or importer who handled or imported 500,000 or more pounds of mangos during the representative period Jan. 1, 2008, through Dec. 31, 2009, was eligible to vote. The program is funded by an assessment of one-half cent per pound on all handled and imported fresh mangos.

William Watson, executive director of the board, said, "We are pleased and grateful for the industry support. For us, it was all about remaining focused and doing the best job we could (for the past five years), and then it was up to the industry to vote and let the chips fall where they may."

The Produce News reached Mr. Watson April 21 while he was traveling in Haiti to assess the effects of this winter’s devastating earthquake on mango production. He said that the packingsheds were not damaged significantly, but there are infrastructure problems that have to be overcome just to get the product from the packingsheds to the ports for shipment to the United States. He added that the psychological toll on all the people of Haiti is tremendous. “Many of the workers in the industry had their homes damaged or lost, and everyone you meet had a family member or someone else they were close to die. It’s devastating.”

Nonetheless, he said that mango shipments from Haiti to the United States should begin within a couple of weeks.

The Mango Promotion, Research & Information Order, which became effective Nov. 3, 2004, authorizes the National Mango Board to conduct a coordinated program of promotion, research and consumer and industry information in order to maintain and expand the market for mangos. The board is comprised of 20 members representing importers as well as producers from around the world. Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and Haiti produce about 98 percent of the mangos consumed in the United States, with Mexico accounting for about 60 percent of that volume.