Marketing Economics Survival of your lifestyle requires knowing more than horticulture.
Washington State apple growers have an important decision to make this month. An added assessment of one cent per 40-pound box is proposed by the Washington Apple Commission to help promote exports of future, larger crops and to better utilize Market Access Program monies from the federal government. Although modest compared to the assessments collected in years past, it is an increase and may not be supported by growers who either question the effectiveness of the Apple Commission or who are still struggling to overcome the low apple prices of much of the last decade. Good Fruit Grower takes no position on political issues, but we sincerely hope that, through our pages, growers can get the information they need to make an informed --decision.
Marketing, obviously, is an essential part of the tree fruit and grape industries, and all marketing organizations, whether public or private, have to balance the costs of their promotions against the value of increased sales. Public commissions have the double responsibility of creating marketing programs that serve a disparate group of members and needs, while, at the same time, they attempt to serve all growers equally while justifying any added expenses before the promotions are put in place.
In this issue of Good Fruit Grower, we include an overview of the assessment increase entitled "Apple assessment vote." In addition, we include two opinion columns that describe the duties and responsibilities of two major organizations funded in large part by the Washington Apple Commission: the Northwest Horticultural Association and the U.S. Apple Association. Finally, we are running an ad paid for by growers who believe the increase is in the best interests of themselves and other apple growers. If you're a Washington State apple grower, it's your decision. We hope we've given you enough information to make that decision easier.
Although our assessment referendum coverage takes no stated or implied position, it's important you realize that Good Fruit Grower is owned by the Washington State Fruit Commission, which has, in the past, requested assessment increases and likely will do so in the future. However, no assessment money from any commission is used to finance the magazine's operation, other than nominal subscription support for grower members.
In addition to the coverage of the referendum, we offer "Prices and expenses climb," an eye-opening reality check on income and expenses for growers. While many observers have noted the much healthier trends in fruit prices, little attention has been drawn to escalating expenses. In his frank assessment of the tree fruit industry, economist Desmond O'Rourke explains the role of inflation in the higher prices. He and Clark Seavert, another agriculture economist who studies grower profits and losses, can help you analyze your own operation to see what you're making today and what you'll make in the future if you adapt your operation successfully.
Many growers had little interest in either marketing or economics when they chose their occupations, but in today's climate, keeping the lifestyle requires understanding both.