USDA supports American farmers, donates to charity

U.S. Department of Agriculture purchases $20 million mandarin oranges to distribute to food banks, schools and non-conventional markets

EXETER – Mandarin oranges see a boost in popularity as the USDA purchased $20 million worth to donate to charity in order to support American farmers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will purchase up to $20 million of fresh mandarins and tangerines for distribution to food banks, schools and other non-conventional markets for the first time.  California Citrus Mutual President Casey Creamer applauds the USDA agricultural marketing service (AMS) for their efforts in bringing attention to American grown mandarins and other citrus products. 

“Section 32 is an important procurement program that supports America’s farmers and provides domestic products to communities and schools,” Creamer said.

This purchase is made possible under authority of Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act Amendment of 1935. The purpose of Section 32 is to encourage domestic consumption of U.S. food products by diverting them from conventional market channels. USDA also announced that it will also purchase up to $20 million in oranges and $10 million in grapefruit. 

According to Creamer, twenty years ago, mandarins trailed all varieties of fresh citrus in per capita U.S. consumption. He said in a statement by 2025, it is anticipated that mandarins will overtake oranges as the most-consumed fresh citrus in the U.S. 

“USDA’s domestic nutrition programs should reflect this significant shift in citrus consumption by ensuring mandarins are made available to schools and food banks,” Creamer said. 

Creamer said this Section 32 purchase is an “excellent first step” to introducing mandarins to other procurement and food distribution programs in the future. Section 32 refers to a section in the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1935. It authorizes the USDA to support surplus commodities by purchasing them according to the USDA. The funding was designed to support agricultural markets.

According to the USDA domestic food procurement: programs and expenditures chapter, section 32 is primarily funded through AMS. The program usually receives $400 million per year for the purchase of meat and livestock and fruit and vegetable commodities.

Information about the purchases, including the official solicitations and procurement specifications, is posted on the Agricultural Marketing Service’s website at www.ams.usda.gov/selling-food.

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