In a move some consider cronyism, New York Democratic Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand pushed for the Department of Agriculture to spend millions on purchasing Concord grapes from New York and other states, reports Empire State News.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) $25 million dollar purchase falls under Section 32, which is a provision designed to alleviate price instability by using government funds to buy grapes from a surplus harvest.
A large crop of Concord grapes in New York this year presented the possibility of plummeting prices. And although the USDA’s purchase is nationwide, the grape industry in western and central New York will benefit substantially, along with other states like Washington, Michigan and Ohio.
“More juice sales mean more profit for our growers in Western New York, Central New York and the Finger Lakes,” said Sen. Schumer. “On top of that, it means the market for their product will be stable ahead of next year’s harvest, so they will now have the certainty they need to make important decisions on hiring. Today’s announcement is good news for every grape-grower in New York.”
This latest move from the Department of Agriculture represents the second time this year that tit has spent money in the grape industry at the recommendations of Schumer and Gillibrand.
Earlier in January, a similar bonus buy resulted in grape sales of $11.5 million dollars. In both cases, the purchase was strongly suggested by the senators as an effort to simultaneously increase the availability of juice for domestic nutrition programs, such as the lunch program, in addition to stabilizing prices for the grape industry.
“New York’s world-class vineyards produce some of the finest grapes, grown by hard-working farm families,” said Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. “When we connect our grape growers in Western New York and the Finger Lakes, we can help strengthen our agriculture economy, while bringing healthy, nutritious grape juice to school children across the country.”
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