The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a Cranberry Marketing Committee proposal to restrict 15% of growers' inventory to help boost the market. ( File photo )

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, acting on requests from cranberry growers, is placing controls on the 2017-18 crop to help bring supplies in line with demand.

The USDA published the plan in the Federal Register on Jan. 2, based on a proposal from the Cranberry Marketing Committee. The rule became official on April 4, and takes effect May 4, according to a USDA news release.

Growers in 10 designated states who produce more than 125,000 100-pound barrels of cranberries can sell 85% of production to any market, but 15% can go only to “noncompetitive outlets” such as animal feed or charitable organizations. Organic cranberry production is exempt.

According to the USDA, the amount of cranberry products carried over from one season to the next is growing, while returns to the growers are dropping. The upcoming season’s production is forecast at 9.1 million barrels — but the committee has put total available supplies at 20.4 million barrels when holdover inventories are included.

Anticipated sales for the season are 333,000 barrels of fresh berries and 9.2 million barrels of processed fruit, leaving an estimated 10.9 million barrels in inventory at the end of the season, according to the committee.

Per-barrel prices paid to growers have dropped, according to the USDA, from $30 in 2011 to $10 in 2016.

The states involved in the volume control are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington. Growers on New York’s Long Island are also included.

 

 

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