11.24.14

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Applauds USDA Action to Support Wisconsin Cranberry Growers

Co-Chair of Congressional Cranberry Caucus Led Bipartisan Effort Calling for a USDA Cranberry Purchase

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, a strong supporter of Wisconsin’s agriculture economy and co-chair of the Congressional Cranberry Caucus, today applauded U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of a purchase of up to 68 million pounds, or 680,000 barrels, of cranberries. The announcement comes after Senator Baldwin led a bipartisan letter advocating for cranberry growers in Wisconsin and across the country.

“Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state. In a state that depends on agriculture to support hundreds of thousands of jobs and communities small and large, it’s essential that we provide our growers with the tools and resources they need to continue to succeed,” said Senator Baldwin. “The USDA’s cranberry purchase will support cranberry growers at a time when the markets are especially tough. I will continue to advocate for efforts that strengthen Wisconsin’s agriculture industry and grow our rural economies.” 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Marketing Service announced that Secretary Tom Vilsack has approved a purchase of up to $55 million worth of cranberry products.  The authorization could cover up to 68 million pounds, or 680,000 barrels, of cranberries. In the next few months, the agency will put out procurement notices for specific products they want to purchase.

The bipartisan letter to Secretary Vilsack asked the USDA to consider a purchase of cranberries to mitigate the impact of a cranberry oversupply on growers at no cost to the taxpayer. The program is funded through customs receipts and the products purchased are provided to food pantries, which distribute the products to families in need. In addition, the cranberry industry has also worked with agency staff the Foreign Agriculture Service to expand export markets for cranberries and at the Food and Nutrition Service to expand the availability of cranberry products in school food programs through the addition of sweetened, dried cranberries to the Foods Available List.

“The cranberry industry is facing an oversupply of berries and since Wisconsin growers produce the majority of the United States' cranberry crop, this is a top concern in our state,” said Tom Lochner, Executive Director of Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association. “We are grateful to Senator Baldwin and the rest of the cranberry caucus for their efforts to support the cranberry industry in Wisconsin and nationwide.”

“Cranberry products play an important role helping Americans meet their recommended daily fruit intake and this purchase will directly support family farms,” said Randy Papadellis, CEO of Ocean Spray. “We are very appreciative of Senator Baldwin’s efforts along with the entire Cranberry Caucus in helping our government understand the significance of these purchases to our industry.”

Wisconsin’s cranberry industry is an important part of Wisconsin’s agricultural sector and overall economy. According to a 2014 report from the University of California – Davis, the cranberry industry in Wisconsin provides $936 million in economic impact to the state each year, and nearly 4,000 jobs in Wisconsin.