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Last week, apple folks from Washington State to Vermont met in Washington, D.C., to attend the U.S. Apple Association’s Public Affairs meeting. This committee convenes each year at this time prior to our annual Washington, D.C., meeting in March. The purpose is to review and approve the many different positions that our U.S. apple industry agrees on, and that USApple lobbies for in the capital. Washington State was represented by George Allen, Dale Foreman, Todd Fryhover, John Graden, Chris Schlect, Jon Wyss, and Larry Olsen. New York sends me, John Teeple, Mark Nicholson, and Paul Baker. Bill Dodd of Ohio heads this committee, and, of course, Michigan, Pennsylvania, California, New England, and Virginia all send members as well.

This blog isn’t long enough for me to cover all of the items on the agenda, but a full day is had, covering ag labor, food safety, the Farm Bill, China, trade, research, pesticide policy, and GMO apples.  So, why do Washingtonians fly across the country, and the rest of us travel to D.C. for this meeting?  We do it so we can be one voice when we visit congressional offices in March, delivering similar messages to representatives that will be voting on items such as the Farm Bill, or, dare I say, immigration reform, someday?

Whatever the issue may be, it is so important that Congress hear the same message from us all. Sometimes, we may not always agree, and those disagreements are hammered out at this meeting, so that at the end of the day, for the good of the cause, we have a platform to communicate from.  This meeting acts somewhat like a dress rehearsal for the big show that is held in March, when apple growers from across the country converge on the Hill.

The door is open to anyone that wants to join the show, on March 22, 2012. Thanks to USApple and this committee, the preparation is finished, and all we have to do now is the leg work on the Hill.