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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release July 21, 2000

USDA ANNOUNCES MAJOR PURCHASE OF PEARS Vice President Says School Children, Food Banks And Growers Will Benefit

Washington, DC -- Vice President Al Gore announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make a major purchase of pears to assist struggling farmers. The fruit will be donated to the school lunch program and to needy families through food banks and other food assistance organizations.

"Many growers are deciding whether it makes sense to pick this year's crop given uncertainties in the marketplace," said Vice President Al Gore. "This purchase will reassure growers and make sure the pears are used to provide nutritious meals for school children and needy families rather than simply going to waste."

Pear growers, along with many other farmers and ranchers, are experiencing a difficult year, made worse by a major California cooperative's bankruptcy filing. The cooperative had contracted with many growers to purchase this year's pear crop. The uncertainty generated by the bankruptcy and canning capacity concerns in the upcoming season has created a surplus of pears, which today's action is intended to alleviate.

The U. S. Department of Agriculture will purchase 64 million pounds (1.4 million cases) of canned pears. The canned pears will be donated to domestic food assistance programs, including the School Lunch Program, which provides nutritious meals to 27 million school children each day, and other programs that provide food to needy families through food banks and other outlets.

Invitations to bid, including final details and specifications, will be mailed to pear vendors at a later date. Deliveries will be made Oct. 1, 2000 through Sept. 30, 2001. Further information can be obtained from the Commodity Procurement Branch, Fruit and Vegetable Programs, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 2548-S, Washington, DC 20090-6456, telephone (202)720-4517 or on the web at