Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown in the Senate, along with Congressmen Jim McGovern and William Keating in the House of Representatives, today launched the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Cranberry Caucus.
The Caucus will serve as a platform to educate Members of Congress, their staffs, and federal agencies about cranberry production in Massachusetts and across the United States. Specifically, the Caucus will address conservation, environmental, and nutritional benefits and concerns, along with issues surrounding the international trade of cranberries.
Cranberries are one of just three commercially cultivated fruit crops native to North America and serve as an important economic driver in Massachusetts. The industry supports thousands of jobs from local cranberry growers to jobs in production, processing, exporting, and supply chain. Studies show that cranberries can help prevent Urinary Tract Infections and also contain cancer-fighting benefits.
"Too many people think of farming as happening somewhere other than Massachusetts and that's a perception we have to fight. America's cranberry production began on the Cape in 1816, and ever since, this storied industry has provided jobs and homegrown industry that matters to Massachusetts. We've got over 600 farms today in Massachusetts that are putting people to work in this business," said Sen. Kerry. "This is a bi-partisan effort, not only to raise awareness about health, but to talk about a local industry that creates jobs and tourism and spin-off industries. This is an educational effort."
"Cranberries are an iconic Massachusetts farm product, and I'm pleased to join my colleagues from Massachusetts and other cranberry producing states in founding the Congressional Cranberry Caucus," said Sen. Brown. "This caucus will provide a platform for the cranberry industry to educate members of Congress and the public about the health benefits of cranberries, and matters related to their production and processing. With over 615 farms in our state, the cranberry industry is a major employer in Massachusetts and a force for our local economies. From the bogs to the processing facilities, employees in the cranberry industry should be proud of the products they produce."
"The cranberry industry has long been of critical importance -- not only to the Massachusetts economy but to the nation's food supply," said Rep. McGovern. "I'm very pleased to join this bipartisan, bicameral effort."
"I want to thank Senators Kerry and Brown for co-chairing the Congressional Cranberry Caucus. We look forward to working with the Caucus on important issues affecting the U.S. cranberry industry," said Randy C. Papadellis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ocean Spray. "We hope this effort will help Americans appreciate how exceptional the cranberry is. The nutrient density of cranberry juice cocktail and dried cranberries makes them the exception in the debate over sugar sweetened beverages and added sugar."
"We are excited to have Senators Kerry and Brown co-chair the bipartisan Cranberry Caucus," said Jeff LaFleur, Executive Director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association. "Their leadership on our issues will ensure that the cranberry industry will be part of the national conversations that impact us directly. We know that they will continue to fight for our industry's economic development and environmental sustainability."
Massachusetts is the proud home of Ocean Spray, an agricultural cooperative of more than 700 cranberry growers in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Quebec, in addition to hundreds of independent growers, many of whom are multi-generation families who have been involved in cranberry growing for decades. In 2011, Massachusetts cranberry production totaled 2.35 million barrels, 24 percent above the production level in 2010, with growers harvesting 13,000 acres of cranberries.
Senator Kerry has been a long-time supporter of the Massachusetts cranberry industry. Over the last 12 years, he has worked to secure millions of dollars in funding for important cranberry projects and research in an effort to keep Massachusetts on top as an industry leader.