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Oversupply of cranberries leads USDA to issue order to farmersSubmitted: 10/08/2018
Story By Rose McBride

Oversupply of cranberries leads USDA to issue order to farmers
MANITOWISH WATERS - When the end of September hits, the machines come out, and it's time to harvest.

"All of our products are grown specifically for the craisin market," said Steven Bartling, co-owner of Bartling's Manitowish Cranberry Company. 

Steven and his brother own a cranberry farm in Manitowish Waters, and they're the fourth generation to run the property. 

"It's really a family ordeal. It was started by my great-grandfather in 1946," said Bartling.


Cranberry growing is a year-round job, but when fall harvest rolls around, things get a little busier. 

The harvest lasts for about three and a half weeks for eight to 10 hours a day. 

Steven focuses on growing and harvesting, but this year the economic side of the cranberry business took a hit. 

"Primarily we're just getting much better at growing them than selling them," said Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association Executive Director Tom Lochner. 

This year the USDA said farmers will only be able to sell 75 percent of their total product in the market. With too much supply and not enough demand, people in the industry knew they had to do something to control the market. But the other 25 percent won't necessarily go to waste. 

"They could use it as animal feed, it could be used as a soil amendment, but they'll find a way to utilize it outside of competitive markets," said Lochner.

The USDA hopes that by reducing what farmers are selling, the supply and demand will even out soon. 

The order might be a pain for farmers like Steven in the short run, but in the long run it will just mean all of the farm's ripe cranberries can be enjoyed and Steven and his family can keep doing what they love.

"It's a lifestyle. You really get to live it, do it, be it. What a great thing to do in the Northwoods," Steven said.


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