LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Michigan has more apples than it can eat. To that end, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will buy $100 million in apples from Michigan farmers and will then use the fruit to help feed hungry Americans, according to a release from the offices of U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters.
The USDA will buy $60 million in fresh apples and $40 million in processed apples from farmers in the state, then distribute them to food banks and school meal programs nationwide.
“We are one of the most agriculturally diverse states and one of the nation’s largest producers of apples,” Stabenow said in a release. “Because record-breaking crops and a significant surplus of apples are threatening to destabilize the market for farmers on orchards across Michigan, I urged the USDA to buy the apples they need from Michigan farmers.”
Michigan is the third largest producer of apples in the county: The state has more than 14.9 million apple trees over 34,500 acres across 775 family farms, the release said.
According to the Michigan Agricultural Cooperate Marketing Association, Michigan apple growers have produced a record crop for the second year in a row.
“Our apple industry was challenged with carryover of raw product from the 2022 apple crop in addition to retail sales of fresh and finished product being down,” MACMA General Manager Dawn Drake said in a statement.
The typical annual apple crop for Michigan hovers around 24 million bushels — but according to the release, 2022’s record-breaking crop exceeded 32 million bushels, and the surplus threatened the supply chain for the 2023 harvest.