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USDA tells farmers to cut cranberry production

7/07/2000-The government has decided to have farmers cut production or dump about 15% of their cranberry crop this fall to lower the surplus and reverse a decrease in prices. The impact on consumer prices will be modest, USDA officials said Thursday, and Ocean Spray, a grower cooperative that accounts for 70% of cranberry production, says it even plans to reduce prices despite the production limit. Under USDA's new limits, growers will be allowed this year to sell only 85% of their usual production, which means they will have to dispose of about 884,000 barrels of fruit. Prices paid to growers have dropped from a peak of $65.90 per barrel in 1996 to $38.80 per barrel for the 1998 crop, and they are expected to drop below $30 for the 1999 crop, USDA says. Ocean Spray spokesman Chris Phillips said the company would cut prices to help clear the surplus but he wouldn't say by how much. The company is also changing its labeling to try to stimulate consumer demand.




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