Collins, King, Pingree, and Poliquin Write to USDA Urging Purchase of Maine Wild Blueberries

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin sent a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on behalf of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine requesting a bonus buy of Maine wild blueberries. Bonus buys help protect American farmers from unexpected market conditions by purchasing surplus goods and distributing them to food banks and other charitable institutions.
      
The letter, which is addressed to the USDA’s Deputy Administrator of Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Charles Parrott, supports the Commission’s request that the USDA purchase 30 million pounds of surplus frozen Maine wild blueberries that could be used to bolster domestic food assistance programs.  The Commission notes that prices for frozen wild blueberries have dropped by as much as 50 percent in less than five years, and a surplus purchase would help stabilize prices.  
      
“A surplus commodity purchase would provide much needed relief to Maine’s wild blueberry growers as well as benefit domestic food assistance programs,” wrote Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin.  “Maine’s wild blueberries are not genetically improved to help them withstand the demands of shipping fresh berries across the United States and internationally.  For this reason, Maine's growers rely on the vitality of the frozen blueberry market, which is currently oversupplied.”

Funding for the purchase of the wild blueberries would come out of the $222 million that has already been appropriated for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program in Fiscal Year 2016.  This program supports the emergency surplus removals of commodities, which are then distributed to domestic food assistance programs.

A copy of the letter is available HERE.