By Associated Press - Monday, May 4, 2020

BRUNSWICK, Maine (AP) - Maine’s independent senator urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support his state’s blueberry and potato industries on Monday amid difficulty in the market.

Sen. Angus King said the industries that harvest the two crops are in trouble because of changes in market demand since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Maine is America’s sole wild blueberry growing state, and it’s also a major producer of potatoes.

The USDA should create economic relief programs tailored to the industries, King said. For example, the agency’s definition of “fresh products” should include fresh-frozen wild blueberries so the industry can be included in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, he said.

The industry could also consider loss of product sales in direct relief calculations for Maine potato farmers, King said.

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