Cranberry Rescue Force

Stock BogTHE BOSTON GLOBE – BUSINESS – With cranberry growers in Wisconsin and Quebec flooding the US market with little red berries, Massachusetts officials have taken action. The Cranberry Industry Revitalization Task Force launched by Governor Charlie Baker, met for the first time last week at the UMass Cranberry Station in East Wareham to discuss ways to help save a historic Massachusetts food crop.

Massachusetts ceded the number one cranberry growing state status to Wisconsin in the mid-1990s, but in recent years, Massachusetts production also fell behind Quebec, where many growers use higher yield cranberry plants that produce as much as five times the number of berries as many Massachusetts-grown heritage varieties.

10504886_10152896614472801_3725008382288552900_oBrian Wick, executive director at the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association, said growers in Quebec offer a bigger style of cranberry that is better-suited for dried cranberries, which have been driving industry growth in recent years.

The 18-member task force is cochaired by Matt Beatonsecretary of energy and environmental affairs, and John Lebeaux, commissioner of agricultural resources, and includes Dan Crocker, from Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc., and Matt Beaton from Sure-Cran Services Inc. (no relation to the other Matt Beaton).

The group’s to-do list includes helping existing cranberry farmers access money to renovate their bogs as well as finding help for farmers who are considering closing operations and are unable to sell their land.

Some farmers “can’t get loans because they’re losing money,” Wick said. “They’re in a tough situation.”

By Megan Woolhouse

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