Our take-away from Washington State University's announcement of a $27 million gift from Washington's fruit tree industry is the diversity with which growers responded to a plan to tax themselves in order to raise that amount.
Apple and pear growers said, OK, we'll do it. Cherry and stone-fruit growers voted no. The question was formally presented as a yes-no vote put to the state's fruit growers, with each group having a say on whether it would tax itself.
The increases -- or proposed increases -- are in addition to existing annual
assessments self-imposed fees that fruit growers in Washington now pay.
The $27 million is the largest single gift to WSU in its history.
Apple and pear growers approved paying a special project fee of an additional $1 per ton for the WSU fund. Cherry growers rejected a $4 per ton special surtax. Stone fruit guys said no to an extra $1 per ton charge.
Separate ballots were mailed for growers in the apple, pear, cherry and stone fruit categories. About 57 percent of apple growers -- 450 -- approved the $1 per ton assessment dedicated to WSU research and extension.
Of the 265 ballots cast by pear growers, 148, or 56 percent, approved a $1 per ton assessment for WSU research and extension.
Cherry and stone fruit growers did not approve the special project assessment, with 56 and 57 percent opposed, respectively.