Citing a need to go in a different direction, the Washington Apple Commission board voted to place president Dave Carlson on paid administrative leave beginning Sept. 1.

Carlson has been president of the Wenatchee-based commission since mid-2003, succeeding Welcome Sauer when the group reorganized following a judge’s decision that mandatory grower assessments for advertising violated free speech laws.

Eight of the nine board members on the commission voted in favor of the decision on July 24, according to a July 29 news release.

The paid leave is indefinite.

When named as leader of the commission, Carlson had served on its board since 2000 and had been chairman of its finance and operation committee.

The commission’s role as a supporter of domestic promotion and marketing of the state’s apple crop, as well as funding research, was greatly reduced following the 2003 court ruling. The commission now focuses primarily on export promotions to more than 30 international markets, according to the release.

Those efforts are supported by U.S. Department of Agriculture funds through the Market Access Program. The 2008-09 allocation is $4.8 million, according to the release.

The commission’s activities are also funded by grower-shippers through a 3.5-cent assessment for each bushel box shipped.

During the July 24 meeting, board members estimated the state’s upcoming crop will be about 98 million bushel boxes. They passed a budget based on 96 million bushel boxes.