Federal government to complete purchase of Maine blueberries to support industry

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - In the face of industry pressure, the federal government is spending up to $4.4 million to complete a plan to help Maine's blueberry industry by buying surplus crop.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in April it would buy up to $13 million in wild blueberries to help with falling prices and over-supply but the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine says the USDA has spent only $8.6 million so far.

Blueberry commission executive director Nancy McBrady said her group requested that the USDA spend the rest of the money, and a USDA spokeswoman confirmed to The Associated Press on Wednesday that the agency is working to complete the purchase.

USDA's purchase of blueberries could eventually impact prices to consumers, which have been lower in recent years of big harvests.