Federal Assistance Sought for Apple Industry
Steven F. Justis, Marketing Specialist
Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food & Markets
In the Spring, the Vermont Department of Agriculture began working closely with the state's congressional delegation, representatives of the U.S. Farm Service Agency, the U.S. Apple Association, and representatives of Vermont's apple industry to develop a federal economic relief package that would work for the region's producers.
Weather conditions over the summer and fall have shifted efforts towards two economic relief actions. The major bill is focused on the 1999 drought; the other, more recently initiated bill will be directed at relief from hurricane-related damage to farms.
Any relief package developed must address the needs of apple producing states and be capable of generating broad support in Congress to become a reality. Possible components of a package may include:
Farm Service Agency Loans
Increase funds in loan program administered by FSA
Provide opportunities for farm debt restructuring
Allow funds to cover re-planting, operating, capital improvements
Increase ceiling on loans from $200,000 to $400,000
Improved Crop Insurance Program
Overhaul current program to better reflect lost incomes.
Section 32 Funds
Increase funds for the procurement of surplus agricultural commodities, including apples.
Increased MAP Allocation
Increase Market Access Program for exports from current $90 million to $140 million
In addition to direct aid programs, Vermont Senators Leahy and Jeffords have played important roles in encouraging the Commerce Department to rule on anti-dumping
case against China. Such an action would stem the tide of cheap apple juice concentrates coming into the U.S., thereby firming "floor" prices for processing apples.
We are also working with government and industry representatives to streamline the H2A program for seasonal offshore labor. For more information, please call