Major changes are being proposed for the red raspberry industry at a public hearing set for May 10 in Bellingham.
Industry representatives are expected to speak in favor of and against establishment of a rule that would create standards for red raspberries sold for processing. The state Department of Agriculture rule hearing will be held at 10 a.m. at the County Council Chamber, Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham. Written comments will be accepted until 5 p.m. May 11.
Red raspberries destined for the fresh market would be exempt from adopted rules. The proposed rules were developed at the request of the Washington Red Raspberry Commission.
The proposed rule establishes grades and standards for fresh red raspberries used for freezing, puree, juice stock and other uses. In addition, the proposal establishes container marking requirements and specifies how red raspberries may be used and sold. Washington No. 1 processing grade standards for red raspberries, for example, would include requirements for washing, sorting and grading at a licensed food processing facility.
Last year, Washington growers produced nearly 35,000 tons of red raspberries on 9,500 acres with a production value of $48 million. Washington is ranked first in the nation for raspberry production with Whatcom and Skagit counties the leading two counties in the state.
Comments may be sent to Dannie McQueen, administrative regulations manager, Washington State Department of Agriculture, PO Box 42560, Olympia WA 98504-2560. Comments may also be sent to McQueen by FAX at 360/902-2092 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.