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Blame Canada: Washington to buy blueberries amid price drop

Low loonie is giving Canadian producers an advantage selling in America

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy up to 30 million pounds (13.6 million kilograms) of wild blueberries to help stabilize prices and supply, as officials say the low value of the Canadian dollar has hurt one of Maine's signature industries.

The members of the state's congressional delegation said Thursday that the agency will pay up to US$13 million for the wild blueberries. The USDA didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Maine is by far the biggest wild blueberry producing state in the United States, and it produces about a quarter of North America's total blueberries, according to the University of Illinois's website.

The purchase comes after the state's legislative delegation said prices of frozen wild blueberries have fallen by as much as half in the last five years.

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Nancy McBrady, executive director of the Wild Blueberry Commission of Maine, said Canadian growers are at a ``tremendous competitive advantage'' when selling in the U.S. and internationally because of the stronger U.S. dollar.

Maine relies on the berries for about $250 million per year in economic value, officials have said.

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