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Maine Lawmaker Says Blueberry Marketing Doesn't Match High Level Of Spending

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press file
In this Aug. 24, 2018 file photo, a worker pours wild blueberries into a tray at a farm in Union, Maine.

Republican state Sen. Marianne Moore of Calais is calling for a legislative probe of how the Maine Wild Blueberry Commission is spending its marketing money.

Moore says the Commission gets hundreds of thousands of dollars from a tax on producers and processors, and that $900,000 a year is passed on to the North American Blueberry Council to pay for national marking of blueberries. Moore told the Government Oversight Committee there are concerns among some in the industry that not enough effort is being made to promote Maine blueberries.

“There is not enough marketing being generated for Maine wild blueberries and that is our concern. And there is not a lot of transparency between the two operations as well,” Moore said. “How are they conducting their business and who is looking, who is providing the oversight on an ongoing basis to be sure that the state blueberry taxes are being spent on marketing Maine wild blueberries?”

The committee took no action on Moore’s request, but did ask the Legislature’s Agriculture Committee to recommend whether there should be an investigation of the Commission and its operations. Moore says Maine wild blueberries should be marketed separately from the general ad campaigns touting the benefits of eating blueberries.

Journalist Mal Leary spearheads Maine Public's news coverage of politics and government and is based at the State House.