August 25, 2019
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Trade retaliation program unlikely to help Maine’s blueberry industry

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Sam Bentzinger, left, and Jake Bentzinger unload freshly picked wild blueberries at the Coastal Blueberry Service in Union, Aug. 24, 2018 A federal program designed to help farmers suffering due to trade disruption is unlikely to assist Maine's wild blueberry growers in 2019. Maine is the sole commercial producer of wild blueberries in the United States, and the industry has struggled in recent years with falling crop sizes and low prices to farmers.

A federal program designed to help farmers suffering due to trade disruption is unlikely to assist Maine’s wild blueberry growers.

Maine’s the sole commercial producer of wild blueberries in the United States. The industry has struggled in recent years with falling crop sizes and low prices to farmers. Maine Agriculture Commissioner Amanda Beal has called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include the crop in its Market Facilitation Program, which is slated to provide billions to growers negatively impacted by foreign trade retaliation.

But the USDA told The Associated Press in a statement that the program is intended for crops that aren’t easily used in school food programs or through food banks. Wild blueberries sometimes fill those needs. The agency said the blueberries remain eligible for other USDA assistance programs.

Watch: What you need to know about Maine’s blueberry industry



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