Learn what the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association is all about.

As an educational group for the industry, the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA) has long held the philosophy of being the entity cranberry growers look to for the resources they need.

Starting back in 1887, WSCGA has evolved and provided a number of services to the growers, From representation to information to education. At one time the association even had an experiment station in the early part of the century up to the mid-1920's.

Over the course of time they have changed quite a bit. Back in 1989 the growers felt they needed the association to become much more active for them. The affairs were managed primarily by a volunteer board and committees, a local attorney who handled legal affairs and the extension staff provided support for the education programs. The association was not functioning the way growers wanted so they hired a professional staff.

Now WSCGA is more involved in a variety of programs and the growers have become very proactive and problem solving oriented. .

WSCGA has 150 grower members with companies ranging in size from a couple acres up to thousands and representing 180 cranberry farms in Wisconsin. Approximately 14,000 planted acres are within the association. An additional 135 associate members include people involved in businesses providing for growers and who also participate in ad programs and support fundraising activities.

They hold a number of educational programs throughout the year and are really grower driven. They rely a lot on committees like most associations do. Education programs, public relations and communications programs and governmental relations are a few of them.

In 1993 the association assumed responsibility for providing administrative services to the Wisconsin Cranberry Board, Inc---a marketing order for commodities which allows growers to assess themselves based on production. Last year the board was assessing growers 10 cents per barrel of fruit and all growers have to pay into that fund that is used primarily for production research. The assessment generates $250,000 per year and they probably fund in excess of $175-180,000----the largest cranberry research entity in the business."

The budget for WSCGA is $375-400,000 for the fiscal year. Most of their income is generated from membership dues though they also acquire revenue from trade shows and education programs like the 2-day cranberry school in January.

Membership dues were in before the recent drop in cranberry prices so an impact on their current year's budget is not anticipated. However, WSCGA does expect that with the changing economy, revenues may be negatively impacted. Their board and growers recognize that their investment in the association is important to keeping them in business in the long run. Some growers will be strapped and will forgo paying their dues. But WSCGA is planning their budget accordingly and it is something they are concerned about.

Many of the growers feel pretty grim as they recognize serious budgetary challenges for themselves. They will probably be looking at running at a loss for a number of years. Eventually they will have to be prosperous or be out of business. Right now they're looking at ways to trim costs.

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