Wisconsin cranberry growers are asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture for permission to limit production in hopes of easing a glut of fruit that's driving down prices.
Estimates show Wisconsin growers are on track to harvest an estimated 5.6 million barrels of cranberries this year. This follows year after year of increased production from state cranberry beds.
Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association Director Tom Lochner says this has been driving down prices.
Currently, Lochner estimates independent growers are getting between $10 to $15 per barrel for their fruit, when they need between $25 and $30 a barrel to sustain their operations. So, Lochner said the industry is asking the USDA to limit production to help farmers recoup costs.
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"The recommendation, if it's approved by the department of agriculture, would remove about 2.5 million barrels of fruit from the inventories and start to get us moved in a direction toward a balance of supply and demand," he said.
The USDA doesn't have to agree to limit production. In 2014, the agency rejected a similar request. But growers would feel the pain, Lochner said, if the agency turns down their latest proposal.
"The projections from the marketing committee are that it would be very problematic for growers, and we would continue to see depressed prices and increases in supply," Lochner said.
The Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association has been busy trying to increased demand nationally as well as internationally. Lochner said they're focusing on countries in Asia, such as China and Taiwan.