The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday it would buy up to $16 million worth of wild Maine blueberries, a move designed to help stabilize blueberry prices in the wake of a bumper crop.
The Maine Wild Blueberry Commission requested in October that the USDA step in to purchase some of the excess supply, which will be used for federal food programs. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud supported the commission’s request.
Pingree said Maine blueberry growers are facing a 25 percent drop in prices this year because of high crop yields.
“The USDA’s purchase will go a long way to stabilizing those prices and helping Maine growers recoup losses,” she said. “Plus, it’s great that these wild blueberries will be headed to food pantries and school lunches across the country.”
Michaud agreed. “Our wild blueberry growers and producers not only provide a nutritious and quality product, but they are critical to the health of our state’s economy,” he said. “This USDA purchase is a win-win that will help address the needs of the industry as well as our nation’s food programs.”
The USDA purchases a variety of food products each year to support federal food nutrition assistance programs, to distribute to victims of natural disasters and to help stabilize prices in agricultural commodity markets, according to Pingree and Michaud’s offices.