USApple urges officials to help with market access and labor policies
The U.S. Apple Association’s Board of Directors met on March 16 with White House policy staff to discuss the challenges for the sector, with the loss of exports, agriculture labor, and renewal of the farm bill as the main topics discussed.
The executives met with Joan Hurst, director for agricultural affairs at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Kelliann Blazek, special assistant to the president for agriculture and rural policy.
“We’ve been cut out of the India market due to 70% tariffs, and the China market has dwindled to nearly nothing. Many growers who have been thinking about renewing their orchards don’t see a point and are instead getting out,” said USApple Vice Chair Steve Clement of Sage Fruit.
India was the number two market for U.S. apples prior to the 2018 Section 232 steel and aluminum retaliatory tariffs, which applied a 25% tariff on steel imports, with exemptions for Canada and Mexico.
As a result, the U.S. apple sector lost market share, costing growers half a billion dollars in sales. The China market suffered a similar impact, all but disappearing for U.S. growers, with countries like Iran, Turkey and Chile rising in turn.
“Steel and aluminum tariffs continue to be one of the biggest challenges facing the apple industry,” Clement added.
According to the organization, getting additional Market Access Program funding for specialty crops is critically needed to help with apple exports, as well as maintaining funding for research and other Agriculture Department programs that directly impact the industry.
The USApple board also urged authorities to help accelerate entry processes for H-2A workers to ensure they can begin work in orchards in time for harvest.