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Congress Creates Cranberry Caucus

Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown, and Congressman Bill Keating are among the lawmakers who worked to create a caucus to represent cranberry growing and manufacturing across the U.S.

Lawmakers will urge USDA to ensure cranberries are not mislabeled as unhealthy

The Cranberry Institute, Ocean Spray, the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers’ Association and the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, today congratulated Senators John Kerry, D-Mass., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Congressmen Reid Ribble, R-WI, and William Keating, D-Mass., for their leadership in forming and co-chairing the Congressional Cranberry Caucus in Washington, D.C. The newly formed bi-partisan, bi-cameral aucus is comprised of more than a dozen members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate who represent cranberry growing and manufacturing regions. The Caucus will be officially launched at a kick-off event on Capitol Hill today, June 6.

Terry Humfeld, executive director of the Cranberry Institute, said the caucus was needed "Given the diversity of the states now involved in cranberry production and the growing number of issues that are of significant interest such as health and nutrition, crop protection tools, international trade, and conservation, the Caucus will serve as a bi-partisan forum for proactively advancing these issues. On behalf of the hundreds of cranberry growers across the United States, we applaud Congressmen Ribble and Keating for taking the lead in forming the Cranberry Caucus with their Senate colleagues Senator John Kerry and Senator Scott Brown to provide our industry a strong voice in Washington, D.C. and underscore the economic impact of the U.S. cranberry industry.... The future growth of the industry and associated economic development in the rural communities the industry supports will only be sustained by advancing new markets, technology and research, and government policies that take into account the unique growing conditions and health attributes of the cranberry."

In addition to preserving critical research and promotion programs in the 2008 Farm Bill, the Caucus’ first official action will be to educate federal officials about the need to establish clear standards that recognize cranberry’s dense nutrients and well-documented health benefits. At the kick-off event, lawmakers will urge USDA to work with the Congressional Cranberry Caucus to ensure that cranberries are not mislabeled as unhealthy as new regulations are written to implement new policies to address childhood obesity.

Randy Papadellis, president and CEO of Ocean Spray, said, "The debate over added sugars and efforts to create policies that will help Americans consume fewer non-nutritive beverages and snack foods is commendable. It’s important to make the distinction between nutrient-dense cranberry products that have more naturally occurring antioxidants per gram than any other fruit, and others that offer empty calories....I commend Senators Kerry and Brown and Congressmen Ribble and Keating for establishing the Congressional Cranberry Caucus and for helping the cranberry industry to set the record straight: Cranberry is an exception in the realm of sugar sweetened beverages and added sugar."

The cranberry industry is an important element of the U.S. economy – the U.S. cranberry crop, grown mainly on multigenerational family farms in Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, provides thousands of direct and indirect jobs, many of which are attributable to the worldwide market for cranberries that now accounts for more than $1 billion per year in exports. The economic benefit of the cranberry industry has also expanded to states outside immediate cranberry production areas that engage in additional handling, exporting and supply chain functions.

--release from Weber Shandwick

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