Oversupply of California cling peaches prompts tree-pull program

12/21/2005 02:00:00 AM

Much to the chagrin of cling peach growers, Americans just aren't eating as much of the canned globular yellow fruit any more. Add to that the flood of cheap imports from Greece and Spain, and many California cling peach growers say they're losing money.

Under a program funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Canning Peach Association, about 150 cling growers have agreed to remove more than 4,000 acres of trees and not replant them until 2016.

The USDA will contribute $5 million, whereas the CCPA will contribute $2 million from assessments levied on growers.

This is the second pull-out program in the past 15 years the industry has helped underwrite, with the first one being in 1990 when 11,000 acres came out of production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published the final rules in the Federal Register for the cling peach pull-out program on Nov. 4, with the $7 million program beginning Nov. 5.

Growers, on a first-come, first-served basis, had until Nov. 30 to submit their application. Growers will be paid $100 per ton based on actual 2005 deliveries. The minimum payment is $500 per acre, and the maximum is $1,700 per acre.

Eligible acres are trees planted after 1987 and before 2003. Abandoned orchards and dead trees do not qualify. Trees must be removed by May 1, 2006. The block of trees for removal must be easily definable by separations from other blocks of eligible trees and contain at least 1,000 trees or an entire orchard.

Only current owners of the land, who have not contracted to sell the land or destroy the trees, are eligible to participate. Growers must also guarantee that they have not made prior arrangements to sell the land or remove the trees for commercial purposes, including shopping centers or housing developments.

A participating grower must agree not to replant cling peach trees on this property prior to May 1, 2016. Participants also bear the responsibility for ensuring that any successor to the land will not replant prior to this deadline. If replanting occurs before this date, the participating grower must refund all USDA payments plus interest.

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