USDA to Purchase Wild Maine Blueberries


The federal government will buy wild Maine blueberries for use in federal nutrition programs.

The Agriculture Department will buy up to $16 million worth of blueberries, which could help ease a drop in prices due to a bumper crop of the berries this summer.

"The USDA's purchase will go a long way to stabilizing those prices and helping Maine growers recoup losses," said Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, who said growers have seen the price they received for blueberries drop by about 25 percent.

The Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine requested that the USDA make such a purchase earlier in the year.

The food purchased by the department is used in such things as school meals, the Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian reservations and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, asked the government to make a timely decision on the request.

Michaud calls the USDA purchase "a win-win that will help address the needs of the industry, as well as the nation's food programs."