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USDA serves up second round of cranberry cuts

USDA orders volume control to stabilize cranberry prices; handlers must withhold 25 percent of 2018 crop.
Don Jenkins

Capital Press

Published on September 14, 2018 8:16AM

Last changed on September 14, 2018 4:58PM

Cranberries tumble into bins during harvest on the Long Beach Peninsula of southwest Washington. The USDA ordered handlers Sept. 12 to withhold 25 percent of this year’s crop to stabilize prices.

Don Jenkins/Capital Press

Cranberries tumble into bins during harvest on the Long Beach Peninsula of southwest Washington. The USDA ordered handlers Sept. 12 to withhold 25 percent of this year’s crop to stabilize prices.

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The USDA has ordered a second cut in cranberry production, directing larger handlers to withhold 25 percent of the fruit they receive this year.

The volume-control measure, finalized this week, was requested by the cranberry industry to stabilize prices. The USDA previously ordered 15 percent of the 2017 crop be diverted from the market.

A cranberry surplus has swelled over the past several years as U.S. and foreign production increased while demand has been flat. With inventories surpassing annual sales, returns for the 2016 crop fell below the cost of production for many farmers, according to USDA.

The order will apply to 65 handlers who receive cranberries from some 1,100 growers in Oregon, Washington, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Long Island in New York.

Wisconsin, Massachusetts and New Jersey are the top three cranberry-producing states, followed by Oregon and Washington.

The marketing orders for the 2017 and 2018 crops do not apply to some cranberries.

Handlers who take in fewer than 125,000 barrels are exempt from the withholding requirement, as are handlers who do not have any carryover fruit. A barrel equals 100 pounds.

Organic cranberries also are exempt from the order.

Handlers will be able to meet half their obligation by diverting juice concentrate instead of fresh cranberries. Juice concentrate is a byproduct of making dried cranberries.

Cranberries can be diverted to charities and for animal feed, as well as to foreign markets, except Canada.

The 2017 withholding diverted 729 barrels, or about 9 percent of the harvest, according figures presented last month by the Cranberry Marketing Committee. The order exempted about 35 percent of the crop. The order also does not apply to cranberries imported into the U.S.

The industry continues to have a large surplus, and USDA forecasts this year’s crop will be larger than in 2017.

The cranberry industry also faces recently imposed tariffs by China, Canada, the European Union and Mexico. The tariffs are part of broader disputes between the U.S. and trading partners.



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