With blueberries in trouble, Maine eyes commission overhaul
Maine lawmakers may attempt to put some life into the nation’s distressed wild blueberry business by overhauling the makeup of the commission which promotes the most important fruit crop of the state.
Maine is now currently America’s only significant commercial manufacturer of wild blueberries. These are somewhat smaller than the cultivated blueberries and therefore are used in plenty of processed and frozen goods. As harvesters collected about 57 million pounds of the fruit in 2018 , down nearly 11 million pounds the industry is weathering a tricky time. Prices have been lukewarm, also.
A legislative committee is considering a bill to enlarge the variety of people who sit on the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, which is tasked with coordinating marketing, education, policy, research and development of the fruit. The proposition could help the commission represent a cross section of their state’s wild blueberry business, fans said.
A Thursday committee vote the proposal faces. The former director of the commission itself said changing the composition of this board could benefit the business, which is located in Down East Maine.
The commission is”prepared to take some help in hastening this recession in the industry,” which has been challenging on growers and processors, Patricia Kontur said.
“It’s been difficult. And also, we know that we will need to diversify a bit more as a way to succeed since we really have some strong rivalry with the cultivated blueberries,” she said.
The blueberry industry also faces opposition from the provinces of Atlantic Canada, which increase the identical crop. And it has fought in the past few years with bacterial infections weather and trouble in opening new markets through recent years of heavy supply.
Alley testified in February that changes could provide”the essential vitality and diversity to help the growers get through this difficult time.” The commission’s actions are funded by processors and farmers who pay a tax on each pound of blueberries produced from the nation. That amounts to about $1 million.