(June 3) — Let the industry decide.

That, in a nutshell, is what the U.S. Department of Agriculture should do concerning a proposal for a mango research and promotion board.

Instead, the USDA, according to industry and government sources, apparently is concerned about foreign grower representation on the board and has delayed publishing the mango board proposal in the Federal Register. Until the proposal is published, nothing can happen.

Publication was expected no later than early this year and then in March. Now it’s June, and the proposal still hasn’t been published.

It should be noted that mango production in the U.S. was less than 3,000 metric tons in 1999. In that same year, mango imports reached 219,000 metric tons.

That’s a good argument for including foreign growers on the promotion board, and domestic mango industry leaders, to their credit, chose to do just that.

The USDA’s reluctance to publish the proposal is puzzling. For example, other promotion boards — including that for watermelons — have foreign representation. And the proposed avocado research and promotion board, also being reviewed by the USDA, would have the same.

The USDA should let the mango industry decide whether it wants the board. The USDA should publish the mango research and promotion board proposal.