U.S.D.A. helps farmers with cranberry surplus - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

U.S.D.A. helps farmers with cranberry surplus

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WISCONSIN (WXOW) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced last week it plans to buy $5 million in cranberry juice concentrate for government nutritional assistance programs to help get rid of some of the cranberry surplus.

Cranberry farmers, who don't belong to a cooperative, are getting $22 to $28 for every 100 pounds of their crop. But it costs them $25 to $30 dollars per 100 pounds to grow.

Last year's weather was great for growing cranberries, so great we have too many.

"The market for cranberry juices has been relatively flat," Tom Lochner, Executive Director, WI State Cranberry Growers Association said. "By having the USDA step in and make a purchase of fruit that will move some cranberries out of inventory helping to reduce that over supply."

But it won't take care of it all.

$5 million will buy about 125 million pounds of cranberries, just a fraction of the 700 million pounds grown in the U.S.

We're not the only ones that had a good year.

"We've seen crops out of Canada come in at much higher levels than people were projecting, in 2012, twice the size expected," Lochner said.

WI State Cranberry Growers Association calls the USDA buy a win-win situation.

"It helps growers out with supply issues," Lochner said. "But it also helps people who are in those programs who have need for healthy nutritious products in their diet."

Schools are one place that will get the cranberry juice.

"We're trying to strike the right balance between the nutritional content that our kids need to be exposed more to," Rep. Ron Kind, (D) WI 3rd District said. "And yet good items they're willing to consume and eat."

"Cranberries are very high in antioxidants and nutrients that provide a lot of health benefits," Lochner said.

Benefits like protecting against heart disease, gum disease and ulcers.

The next step is for the USDA is to take bids from cranberry growers for the juice concentrate.

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