(July 28) There will be no generous promotional allowances, no colorful advertising and no inviting contests for U.S. retail merchandisers.

In more limited ways, however, the Washington Apple Commission, Wenatchee, can still serve the produce industry, said its interim manager.

Yakima grower Dave Carlson, owner and general manager of Carlson Orchards Inc., was named interim manager of the commission in mid-July. His salary, which he said is in the range of $30,000 per year, is much lower than that of former president Welcome Sauer, who reportedly had a compensation package topping $170,000. Carlson will continue to be involved in farming operations.

“The word interim is the key word,” he said.

NO DATE SET

However, he said a decision has not been made on when the commission will look for a permanent manager.

Like the salary of its top official, the commission itself has been downsized — from nearly 50 employees several months ago to nine in late July and perhaps six or seven within three or four months.

Carlson said the commission will no longer be involved in domestic marketing and advertising. “Those functions stopped immediately at the time the judge made his first ruling on March 31,” he said.

The commission itself sued in late summer 2001 to verify its legal status in light of the July 2001 U.S. Supreme Court decision that found that mandatory advertising assessments collected by the Mushroom Council violated growers’ free speech rights.

The lawsuit worked against the commission. U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea ruled on March 31 that the apple commission was violating growers’ First Amendment rights by charging mandatory, per-box fees to fund generic promotions of Washington apples.

YOU ASK, WE’LL TELL

However, Carlson said he believes the commission will still be a focal point for the industry. When it does receive domestic inquiries about Washington apples, he said the commission will provide prospective buyers with a list of all Washington apple marketers.

“We can answer general questions, we just cannot perform any marketing or advertising activity,” he said. Carlson said Shea left room for the discussion of health benefits by the commission.

Ed Kershaw, president of Domex Marketing Co. Inc., Yakima, said the challenge of the commission and for Carlson is to work with a budget that has been slashed.