So it is that time of year when independent growers in Wisconsin are finishing up their harvest and waiting to hear from their handlers what their projected price and payment terms will be. Usually that comes out in November when handlers make their first payment.
Due to a new player on the block, Cranberry Growers Cooperative or CranGrow,the independent world in Wisconsin is changing. Prices are coming up because handlers surprisingly “can pay a little more.” One handler is reportedly using a one year bonus as a way to get growers to renew their contracts, with no future guarantees or incentives.
I think independent handlers around here are a little concerned about their cheap, below cost of production raw material and worried that CranGrow might offer growers an alternative: a way to make a reasonable return for their crop and real ownership in the process. And since there are three independent dryers in Wisconsin with a need for whole fruit, things could get interesting.
Growers need to take an active role in determining their future. A pretty smart guy once told me that independents were being handled by their handlers. Enough is enough. It’s time for a change.