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Northwest Cranberry Farmers Struggle From North American Fruit Oversupply

Northwest cranberry farmers are struggling from a North American oversupply of the fruit.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a federal buy of cranberries Monday, but the industry isn’t hopeful it will help the prices much.

Kim Patten, the lead cranberry expert at Washington State University’s Longbeach research and extension unit, said he’s had several heart-felt conversations with farmers in the last month or so.

“I guess I was at the point of tears, you know that they’re: ‘I’m walking away, I can’t do this anymore, it’s over for me.’ That’s hard,” he said.

The crop’s been grown in the Northwest since the late-1800s. But now there is so much fruit and juice on the market from the U.S. and Canada that independent Northwest farming families aren’t able to break even.

Northwest farmers are especially hurting. Their crop is mostly grown near the coast. They can’t easily expand their acreage or get the same fruit production as sunnier regions.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.