Wisconsin harvests over 60% of the nation’s cranberries. The crop entered Wisconsin agriculture around 1860 and is now the state fruit. The Wisconsin Cranberry Growers Association formed not too much later in 1887. Tom Lochner is the Executive Director.
The impact of cranberries reaches far beyond U.S. borders. Wisconsin alone accounts for over half of the world supply. That won’t be easy to replace. Tom discusses the impact the trade war has had on farmers and how the industry is still pushing to sell overseas.
The E.U. has always put tariffs on cranberries and certain products, but new ones are weighing down. Asia, however, offers a rich market. Japan has been a customer of American cranberries for years, and now China and India are buying. Wisconsin is by far the leading state, but the association unites farmer from across the country. Other big suppliers are in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Washington, and Oregon.
The USDA is seeking to force farmers to reduce their crop to 75% of its original size as part of a surplus management system. This method isn’t unique to cranberries but is being talked about across ag industries. Tom says this would be devastating to farmers, but they’re trying to stay afloat.