The latest will be in addition to the 346,000 pounds of raisins that USDA has already purchased in fiscal year 2003. USDA also has bought more than 18.4 million pound ($28.2 million) of dried fruit and nut mix, which included more than 1.2 million pounds ($1.6 million) of raisins.

In fiscal year 2002 USDA purchased 34.5 million pounds of raisins worth $23.4 million. In fiscal year 2001 USDA purchased a total of 39.2 million pounds of raisins worth $27.6 million.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service purchases a variety of high quality food products every year for distribution by USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service to the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations, the Nutrition Program for the Elderly, the Commodity Supplemental Food Program and the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

USDA also makes emergency purchases of commodities for distribution to victims of natural disasters.

More information on USDA programs is available at www.usda.gov and information on President Bush’s Healthier U.S. Initiative can be found at www.whitehouse.gov.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com