Fear of losing blueberry growers as prices drop, crop soars

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- Members of Maine's blueberry industry fear losing growers due to a depression in prices that has made growing the beloved crop lately a less reliable way to make a living.

Wild blueberries are a Maine tradition on par with lobsters and lighthouses. But prices to farmers have plunged from nearly a dollar a pound (454 grams) in 2011 to around 25 cents per pound (454 grams) now.

Republican Gov. Paul LePage has submitted a budget proposal that would use $2.5 million in state money to market agricultural products such as blueberries. He and others say the state needs to find new buyers for the blueberries to try to buoy prices.

One of the reasons for the drop in prices is a multi-year boom in harvest that has led to surplus.

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