May 24, 2018
$177.4 million in commodity purchases planned by USDA

Up to $177.4 million in purchases for nutrition assistance programs using a new streamlined process was introduced May 24 by U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach.

The American-grown products that will be purchased will be provided to families in need through USDA’s nutrition assistance programs.

“USDA is taking a more proactive approach in order to better serve our customers, ensure timely purchases for federal nutrition programs, and deliver value for the American taxpayer through safe and affordable American made products,” said Ibach.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) purchases a variety of high-quality food each year to support the National School Lunch Program, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations and the Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

Under the new streamlined process, USDA will proactively monitor market conditions and provide a more predictable and consistent process for determining when to make such purchases. For the first purchases using the new procedure, USDA announced up to:

  • $25 million for pork products
  • $25 million for tart cherries
  • $22 million for dried peas
  • $20 million for cheddar cheese
  • $18 million for clingstone peaches
  • $15.5 million for processed tomatoes
  • $12 million for dried plums
  • $11 million for dried pinto beans
  • $10 million for lentils
  • $9.4 million for wild blueberries
  • $8.5 million for highbush blueberries
  • $1 million for red raspberries

Details on how vendors may participate are available on the Selling Food to USDA page on the AMS website. Interested suppliers may also call (202) 720-4517 or write to Contracting Officer, USDA/AMS Commodity Procurement Staff, Stop 0256, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250.

U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, applauded USDA’s support for Michigan’s tart cherry industry.

Stabenow has urged the USDA to take action to help Michigan cherry growers, who have recently faced uncertainty from unfair trade practices by other countries. “In Michigan, we grow more tart cherries than any state in the country,” Stabenow said. “While there’s still more work to do to level the playing field for our producers, this new support is an important step to help our cherry growers weather an unfair trade imbalance.” 

Recently, countries like Turkey have dumped cherry products into domestic markets, creating a trade imbalance that has threatened the success of Michigan’s cherry industry. The USDA announced a bonus buy purchase to protect cherry growers from the rise in unfair foreign competition. The cherries purchased will go to food banks and school meals, providing families and students with nutritious fruit. 

“This is a very big deal for the tart cherry industry,” said Phil Korson, president of the Cherry Marketing Institute. “As we have struggled to deal with cheap imports, our domestic inventories have increased, which have depressed our growers’ prices. This purchase will help remove some of that surplus inventory and put more money back in growers’ pockets. We appreciate the leadership from Senator Stabenow and our elected officials to help us get this over the finish line.” Senator Stabenow has long been a champion for Michigan cherry growers and has led the effort to provide relief from trade imbalances.

“Earlier this year, Senator Stabenow urged Agriculture Secretary Perdue to take action to protect Michigan’s cherry industry from unfair competition and raised the issue again with him at a committee hearing last month,” Korson said. “While the purchase is an important first step to reducing the impact of the imbalance, trade officials need to address the issue long term. In conversations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Chief Agricultural Negotiator Gregg Doud, Senator Stabenow has pressed them to accept cherry growers’ petition to revoke Turkey’s unfair duty-free access to the U.S. market.”

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