USDA purchase helps cranberry farmers - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

USDA purchase helps cranberry farmers


Cranberry growers in Wisconsin, and across the country, are getting some help from the federal government.

"It was a phenomenal year in cranberry land," said Fred Prehn. "We had a big, big crop."

Prehn owns a cranberry marsh near Tomah. But after a great production year nationwide, he says the demand for cranberries hasn't kept up, forcing the prices down.

"I betcha cranberry prices have dropped a good 30%- 60% depending on who your handler is," said Prehn.

But on Friday, Democratic Congressman Ron Kind announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy $5 million of surplus cranberries. The fruit will go toward food assistance programs.

This comes after politicians on both sides, including Kind, urged the USDA to support farmers.

In a statement Kind said, "I'm very pleased that Wisconsin producers will receive help from the USDA to ease some of the uncertainty."

Congressman Sean Duffy also responded.

"I'm ok with it," said Duffy. "We're saying we have extra cranberries and we can put those cranberries to good use by helping our young kids around the country get great nutrients."

Prehn says this is good news, but he says even more needs to be done to help the farmers.

"We've got to sell this stuff," said Prehn. "We will. We're going to get into Asia, into china, we're going to sell it."

For now, he has one suggestion for everyone.

"Eat some more," said Prehn. "The more you eat, the better it is for us growers to keep the price up where it belongs and at least break even."

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