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The U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a proposed rule that would increase the assessment rate on fresh mangos by 50 percent, to three-quarters of a cent per pound from one-half cent per pound, to 

fund the National Mango Board and its activities.

In 2010, about 770 million pounds of fresh mangos were imported into the United States, so under the proposed assessment rate an operational budget of more than $5 million would be created. A 770 million-pound crop at one-half cent per pound assessment would create about a $3.85 million budget.

William Watson

William Watson, executive director of the board, said that it has been operating close to a $4 million budgetfor the past two years, as it has combined annual assessment collections with holdover funds collected during the first year of operation when no activities were conducted. Those holdover funds, however, have been exhausted, and if there is no increase in the assessment rate, the annual budget will have to be reduced.

“Without this increase we would have to cut programs, and the board did not want to do that. So it recommended that the assessment be increased,” said Mr. Watson.

With the publishing of the proposal, USDA established a public comment period of 60 days, which 

will end on July 11. The assessment increase, if approved by the secretary of agriculture, will be made effective at some point after the final rule is published, but it most likely will be in effect for the 2012 fiscal year, which mirrors the calendar year for the federally approved mango marketing order.

Mr. Watson said that the board and its programs have proven effective, but he steered clear of endorsing the USDA assessment increase proposal.

“Our job is to run whatever size program we are given,” he said. “But I can say that our program has increased consumption over the years.”

Mr. Watson said that in 2005, 573 million pounds of mangos were imported into the United States. The 770 million pounds imported in 2010 represents a 35 percent increase in sales in that five-year period.

The National Mango Board conducts a variety of research and promotional activities designed to increase consumption of the fruit. All first handlers and importers of more than 500,000 pounds of mangos annually must pay the assessment, regardless of the point of origin of the fruit. Mangos are imported from many different countries, but the top producers are Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, Brazil, Guatemala and Haiti.