Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says USDA intends to purchase up to $23 million of peach products and mixed fruit for federal nutrition assistance programs.

"These purchases will assist peach and mixed fruit producers, who are currently struggling due to depressed market conditions," said Vilsack. "Today's actions will help stabilize prices and markets, stimulate the economy, and provide high quality, nutritious food to schools and food banks."

USDA intends to purchase up to $18 million of canned clingstone peaches and mixed fruit in light syrup or fruit juice, along with up to $5 million of frozen peaches, for federal nutrition assistance programs. The department will seek the lowest overall costs by surveying potential suppliers and publicly inviting bids to assure bids are awarded to responsible bidders.

Each year, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service purchases a variety of high-quality, nutritious food products to support the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and The Emergency Food Assistance Program. USDA also makes emergency food purchases for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

Government food experts work to ensure that all purchased food is healthful and nutritious. Food items are normally required to be low in fat, sugar and sodium. The commodities must meet specified grade requirements and be USDA-certified to ensure quality. AMS purchases only products of 100 percent domestic origin.