Maine ag commissioner let down by USDA's blueberry aid snub

Cropped Photo: WPBN/WTOM

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) - Maine's agriculture commissioner says it's "highly disappointing" the federal government won't include the state's blueberry growers in a program designed to provide payments to farmers hurt by trade disruption.
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal says the agency will keep pushing for the inclusion of Maine wild blueberry growers in future payment programs aimed at offsetting such disruptions.
Beal had called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to include wild blueberries in its Market Facilitation Program. That program's set to provide aid to growers hurt by foreign trade retaliation. The U.S. is currently embroiled in trade hostility with China.
The USDA said Maine's blueberry industry is helped by other assistance programs. Beal says the problem is those programs don't provide help directly to the farmers themselves.