Maine's Congressional Delegation announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will grant up to $13 million for a purchase of up to 30 million pounds of Maine wild blueberries after the Delegation requested the measure earlier this year. Bonus buys, like this, help protect American farmers from unexpected market conditions by purchasing surplus goods and distributing them to food banks and other charitable institutions.
“We are pleased to announce this important relief for our Maine blueberry growers who have suffered from an oversupply of their produce this season,” wrote Maine’s Congressional Delegation (Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin) in a joint statement. “Our growers have been faced with declining prices and increased competition because of near-record crop sizes in 2014 and 2015. This is welcome support for our industry in Maine, which provides for more than 3,000 jobs in its peak harvest season.”
The money used for surplus removal will be taken from 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.