USApple, States Set Legislative Priorities
Steven F. Justis, Marketing Specialist
Vermont Department of Agriculture, Food & Markets
In mid-March, representatives from apple organizations across the country assembled in Washington, DC, under the auspices of the U.S. Apple Association (USApple) to discuss industry issues and to set legislative priorities. Some of the major issues discussed at the meetings are outlined below:
Food Quality Protection Act: USApple seeks federal support for a number of activities to minimize the effects of FQPA on the apple industry, including $14 million for the Pesticide Data Program administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service; $3.2 million for the National Agricultural Statistics Service pesticide-usage surveys; and $12.2 million for the Integrated Pest Management Research Grant Program administered by the Cooperative State Research Extension and Education Service.
Postharvest Quality Research Position: The industry is encouraging Congress to continue funding for postharvest fruit quality research at the ARS laboratory in East Lansing Michigan. Research is directed at quality control issues, including new techniques for measuring sugar content and firmness of apple shipped for fresh markets.
H-2A Agricultural Labor Program Reform: Congressional support is sought for support of AgJobs legislation (S. 1814) to ease the shortage of agricultural labor by reforming the H-2A labor program.
Crop Loss Assistance for Apple Growers: In 1999, Congress approved $1.2 billion in disaster assistance to farms across the country. As a "specialty crop", apples were not adequately covered. Legislation has been introduced in Congress (by Rep. Hinchey of NY and Rep. DeLauro of CT) for a supplemental appropriation of $150 million for specialty crops, including apples.
Market Access Program: The U.S. exports nearly 25 percent of its apple crop. The Market Access Program (MAP) provides financial assistance to at least 60 agricultural cooperator groups, including the U.S. Apple Export Council, to encourage exports. USApple is seeking support for S. 1983 and H.R. 3593, which would increase MAP funds from current $90 million to its previous level of $200 million. The apple industry matches each federal dollar with 78 cents.
Apple Juice Concentrate Antidumping: The Commerce Department is scheduled to make a final decision on the apple industry's complaint against China relating to dumping of AJC at prices below the cost of production.
For more information on either of these issues, or for more details on national, state and regional apple industry activities, please contact me at (802) 828-3827 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.