USApple members discuss NAFTA, market access with Congress
A group of nearly 60 apple industry leaders from across the U.S. convened in Washington, D.C on March 23 to meet with members of Congress and discuss hard-hitting issues affecting the future of agriculture.
As a part of the U.S Apple Association's annual fly-in, Todd Fryhover and Lindsey Huber of Washington Apple Commission, along with Mike Wade and Megan Wade of Columbia Fruit Packers, met one-on-one with several Representatives and Senators.
“It was a productive and insightful experience,” said Megan Wade said in a release.
“I will walk away having learned a lot from both the lawmakers we met with and the other members from U.S Apple Association.”
Mike Wade said a highlight during the group's visit to Washington D.C was sitting down with Senator Maria Cantwell.
“Senator Cantwell has been a long time supporter of the Agriculture Industry. A group of about 15 of us sat with her and her staff to discuss some of the issues affecting our industry,” said Mike Wade
Apple growers asked Congress to consider the most important issues impacting their profession, their local family business and their role in sustains future food supply.
The issues discussed "at length" included the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Market Access Program.
The release said Canada Mexico and the U.S. combine to make up "one of the most competitive and successful regional economic platforms in the world", and USApple urged Congress to preserve and expand upon the gains that have been achieved by NAFTA.
U.S. President Trump has been highly critical of NAFTA, describing it as “the worst trade deal maybe ever”, and has pledged to either renegotiate or withdraw the from the deal.
As for market access, with more than 30% of the U.S. fresh apple crop exported overseas, international trade is important to the health and future of the industry, the release said.
Federal funding of USDA’s Market Access Program has expanded fresh apple exports by nearly 150% since 1986, and USApple urged Congress to maintain full funding of the program.
“With a new President and new Congress, now is a critical time to advocate for the apple industry,” USApple president and CEO Jim Bair said.
“We thank Todd, Lindsey, Megan, and Mike for adding a leadership voice to our message and being part of the solution. It is appreciated.”