The cranberry industry in central and northwestern Wisconsin is
in a tailspin that would make even corn and wheat farmers believe
they're the lucky ones. Thanks to rapid expansion and higher per-acre
yields, a surplus of cranberries has made prices crash by 80 percent
The glut of fruit has gotten so bad that that U.S. Department
of Agriculture imposed a volume cap on the 2000 fall cranberry harvest.
This generally meant growers could only sell about 85 percent of
their cropat historically low pricesand required about
200 cranberry growers in Wisconsin alone to harvest and then dump
400,000 barrels of excess cranberries.
In October Congress approved $50 million in federal support-$20
million in direct cash payments to growers and $30 million worth
of government purchases of juice concentrate or frozen fruit to
winnow down surplus inventories.
—Ronald A. Wirtz