The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will purchase up to $20 million of fresh mandarins and tangerines for distribution to food banks, schools and other non-conventional markets. According to California Citrus Mutual (CCM), this is the first time USDA has made such a purchase under authority of Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment of 1935.
The purpose of Section 32 is to encourage domestic consumption of U.S. food products by diverting them from conventional market channels.
USDA announced that it will also purchase up to $20 million in oranges and $10 million in grapefruit.
“Section 32 is an important procurement program that supports America’s farmers and provides domestic products to communities and schools,” said CCM President Casey Creamer. “Twenty years ago, mandarins trailed all varieties of fresh citrus in per capita U.S. consumption. By 2025, however, it is anticipated that mandarins will overtake oranges as the most-consumed fresh citrus in the United States. USDA’s domestic nutrition programs should reflect this significant shift in citrus consumption by ensuring mandarins are made available to schools and food banks. This Section 32 purchase is an excellent first step to introducing mandarins to other procurement and food distribution programs in the future.”
“California Citrus Mutual applauds the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service for their efforts to bring American-grown mandarins and other citrus products to all consumers,” Creamer added.
California is by far the largest mandarin producer in the United States. The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s January citrus crop forecast pegged California’s tangerine and tangelo production at 22 million boxes this season. Florida is projected to produce only 500,000 boxes.
Information about the USDA citrus purchases, including the official solicitations and procurement specifications, is posted on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website.
Source: California Citrus Mutual