U.S. gov­ern­ment buy­ing up blue­ber­ries

The Hamilton Spectator - - BUSINESS - PA­TRICK WHIT­TLE

In the face of in­dus­try pres­sure, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment is spend­ing up to $4.4 mil­lion to com­plete a plan to help Maine’s blue­berry in­dus­try by buy­ing sur­plus crop.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture said in April it would buy up to $13 mil­lion in wild blue­ber­ries to help with fall­ing prices and over­sup­ply. Wild blue­ber­ries are one of Maine’s sig­na­ture ex­ports, and re­cent years of large har­vests have left the in­dus­try with ex­cess berries.

The USDA has bought $8.6 mil­lion in blue­ber­ries, the Wild Blue­berry Com­mis­sion of Maine said. Com­mis­sion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Nancy McBrady said the group re­quested the fed­eral agency spend the rest of the money. A USDA spokesper­son con­firmed on Wed­nes­day that the agency is work­ing to com­plete the pur­chase.

“It’s im­mensely help­ful to our in­dus­try,” McBrady said.

Wild blue­ber­ries are dif­fer­ent from cul­ti­vated blue­ber­ries in that they are smaller, have a more in­tense taste and are richer in an­tiox­i­dants. Maine is by far the United States’ big­gest pro­ducer of wild blue­ber­ries, which are also har­vested in At­lantic Canada.

The USDA’s pur­chase of wild blue­ber­ries could even­tu­ally im­pact prices to con­sumers, which have been lower in re­cent years be­cause of the big har­vests and com­pe­ti­tion from Canada, where the dol­lar is weaker. Frozen wild blue­ber­ries slid from 90 cents per pound in 2011 to 60 cents per pound in 2014, the blue­berry com­mis­sion has said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.