USDA Proposes 50% Increase in Import Assessments on Blueberries
The Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service is accepting comments through July 19 on a proposed rule that would increase from $12 to $18 per ton the assessments imposed on imported and domestically produced blueberries. Importers and producers who import or produce less than 2,000 pounds of blueberries annually, and importers and producers of 100% organic blueberries, are exempt from the payment of assessments.
Assessments are used for research and promotion projects designed to maintain and expand the market for highbush blueberries in the U.S. and abroad. The AMS states that additional funds would allow the expansion of research into the health benefits of blueberries, which are used in promotional materials to build demand. While research funded by these assessments has shown possibilities relating to various health issues, including cardiovascular health and cancer, most of these preliminary findings have been done under laboratory conditions. Additional funds would allow the incorporation of specific areas of research into expanded clinical (human) trials, which are important for the industry to be able to make health claims pursuant to Federal Trade Commission and Food and Drug Administration requirements for the advertising of food.