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Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Could Face Production Limits For 2018 Crop

USDA Considering Order To Limit Cranberry Production In Effort To Raise Prices

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cranberry harvest
Ted S. Warren/AP Photo

Wisconsin cranberry growers could be forced to reduce their sales if a federal marketing order from the U.S. Department of Agriculture is approved.

The USDA is taking public comments on the proposal to limit the nation’s cranberry crop to 75 percent of its normal size as a way to decrease stocks and raise prices.

Tom Lochner, executive director of the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, said the Cranberry Marketing Committee recommended the order along with another measure last August.

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“The first one was to enact a 15 percent handler withholding on the 2017 crop, which USDA did approve earlier this year,” Lochner said. “It was thought with those two actions, the supplies and the inventories would start to stabilize, while at the same time the industry was working very hard on a longer-term solution to develop new markets and new products to spur sales of cranberry products.”

Lochner said the cranberry industry has used similar measures in the past, including in the early 2000s.

Dave Hansen, manager of Dubay Cranberry Company, said he remembers previous marketing orders and he felt like the measures did help raise prices in the short term.

But with the 2018 growing season underway, Hansen said he’s not planning to grow fewer cranberries.

“Anything can affect the crop during the year. So if you do short yourself, if you have a catastrophic hail event or something go wrong with the crop, then you’re going to be really short, then you’ll be putting yourself more in a bind than you already are,” Hansen said.

Lochner said the industry was hoping the agency would make a decision before the growing season got started. But he said growers can work with their handlers to manage excess fruit, selling it as cattle feed or even soil supplements.

USDA is taking public comment on the order until May 29.

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