The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on March 5 announced an $18 million purchase of grapefruit juice in response to winter weather in Texas, the Indian River Citrus League (IRCL) reported. The February Texas freeze caused estimated citrus crop losses of at least $230 million and hit before much of the Texas citrus crop had been harvested.
“For the past three decades, large grapefruit juice inventories have dramatically reduced grower returns,” said IRCL Executive Vice President Doug Bournique. “These purchases, in concert with creating new markets, will help to reduce these building inventories, stabilizing grower returns in the future. The League will continue to work with USDA to pursue future purchases to relieve building inventories of grapefruit juice.”
Bournique notes that “USDA has been extremely helpful by working with our industry when our inventories get critically high.”
The USDA’s March 5 purchase is in addition to USDA’s March 1 announcement of a $7.5 million grapefruit purchase under Section 32. Section 32 is part of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935. The section authorizes USDA to support prices of commodities in surplus by purchasing them in the marketplace, and also authorizes USDA to distribute commodities domestically.
The legislation authorizes the funding of these activities with money collected from customs receipts. This funding is primarily administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to purchase meat, livestock, fruit and vegetables. Funds used under Section 32 are designed to support agricultural markets. As a result, the funds are to be applied to the purchase of relatively unprocessed food products that are close to agricultural commodities in the distribution chain.
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