With blueberries in trouble, Maine eyes commission overhaul

Maine lawmakers might try to pump some life by overhauling the makeup of the commission that promotes the main fruit crop of the state.

Maine is currently the only significant commercial producer of wild blueberries of America. These are somewhat smaller than the cultivated blueberries that are omnipresent and therefore are used in a great deal of products. As harvesters gathered about 57 million pounds of this fruit down almost 11 million pounds the business is weathering a challenging time. Prices have been lukewarm.

A legislative committee is considering a bill to expand the amount of people who sit on the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, which is tasked with coordinating education, promotion, policy, research and maturation of the fruit. The proposal may assist the commission represent a broader cross section of the nation’s wild blueberry industry, supporters said.

The bill, presented by Democratic Rep. Robert Alley, would increase the amount of members to the commission from eight to 10, and also expand its reach by inviting involvement from organic farmers, Japanese farmers, representatives from the brand new packing business and many others.

The proposition faces a Thursday poll vote. The executive director of the commission itself stated altering this board’s composition could reap the blueberry industry, which can be located largely in Down East Maine.

The commission is”ready to take some help in negotiating this downturn in the business,” that has been hard on processors and growers, Patricia Kontur stated.

“It has been hard. And we also understand that we need to diversify a bit more as a way to succeed since we really have any strong competition with all the cultivated blueberries,” she said.

The wild blueberry industry also faces competition from the states of Atlantic Canada, which increase the same crop. And it has struggled in the past few years with trouble weather and fungal diseases in opening new markets through recent years of supply.

Alley testified in February that changes can provide”the essential diversity and energy to assist the growers get through this tricky time.” Processors and farmers who cover a taxation on every pound of blueberries fund the commission’s activities. That amounts to approximately $1 million.