The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to buy up to $126.4 million in fresh and processed fruits and vegetables to support needy families — and the growers of those products by removing them from the supply chain to stabilize markets.
Tart cherries, processed apples, cranberries, fresh tomatoes, wild blueberries, and raisins are products targeted for purchase through the Emergency Food Assistance Program, according to a news release.
Commodity buys will be provided to states for distribution to food pantries and soup kitchens, according to a release.
The program is part of USDA’s surplus removal program, according to the release, which helps stabilize prices. Surplus products are provided to the food assistance program, the National School Lunch Program and other USDA nutrition assistance programs, according to the release.
Congress allocated $311.3 million for the Emergency Food Assistance Program in fiscal year 2013. The program also receives food purchased by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to alleviate oversupply of commodities.
In fiscal year 2013, 366.3 million pounds of food purchased for the food assistance program came from appropriations by Congress, while 270.8 million pounds of food were provided through AMS surplus removal efforts, according to the release. Surplus food purchases for the food assistance program in fiscal year 2013 totaled $228.51 million, according to the release.
The USDA said the purchases include up to:
- $28 million for up to 60 million pounds of cranberries;
- $23 million for up to 20 million pounds of tart cherries;
- $5 million for up to 20 million pounds of fresh tomatoes in Florida;
- $20 million for up to 45 million pounds of processed apple products;
- $36.4 million for up to 2.6 million pounds of raisins; and
- $14.0 million for up to 8 million pounds of wild blueberrie