Maine wild blueberry growers are getting a $10 million bonus buy from the federal government to help offset depressed prices for their crops.

For the third straight year, Maine’s wild blueberry growers have grappled with large yields while there’s a global oversupply of cultivated blueberries and declining prices.

Earlier this year, Maine’s congressional delegation and state officials asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide relief to growers by buying surplus frozen wild blueberries, according to a news release from the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine. The USDA, which last year provided a $13 million bonus buy, agreed.

“Maine wild blueberry growers are a resilient group, but global supply and pricing pressures are seriously impacting our business today,” Roy Allen, a fourth-generation wild blueberry grower and processor in Ellsworth, said in the release. “The bonus buy will help alleviate some short-term pressures while we pursue a more aggressive long-term strategy. In the last three years, we’ve experienced an oversupply issue, but prior to that, it was not uncommon for our freezers to be virtually empty before the new harvest arrived.”

Maine growers are also challenged by a weak Canadian dollar that is giving Canadian growers a price advantage.

The commission is stepping up a marketing campaign to increase the demand for wild blueberries. Nancy McBrady, executive director of the commission, said the organization is shifting its strategy to target more large-scale food service, restaurant chains and manufacturing businesses.

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