This week, Congressman Bill Owens, who represents the largest McIntosh growing region in the world, introduced H.R. 3914 that will exempt apples shipped in bulk containers to Canada from the current Apple Export Act.
Upon the urging of the New York apple industry, Mr. Owens drafted the legislation that will streamline U.S. apple exports to Canada. If the bill is passed, any apples that are sent in bulk containers (weighing over 100 pounds) such as field bins or trailers, for either processing or repacking, will no longer be required to be inspected by USDA/state inspectors.
Earlier this year, I reached out to Congressman Owens, explaining the unnecessary regulation and identified to him the high costs that growers were paying for an inspection that was not requested by the buyer or the seller, on either side of the border. Owens was quick to answer the call. At the same time, I contacted both Chris Schlect and Mark Powers of the Northwest Horticultural Council to ask them to review our request and to determine if there could be any reason why this exemption could hurt the U.S. apple industry. Since we were not including finished-packed cartons of apples in the exclusion, the response from NHC was positive. Once we had the support from Washington, Congressman Owens introduced the bill.
This is a good example of removing mandates (that were written in 1933) that saves grower dollars and helps increase commerce. As many of you know, pears were originally included in the Apple and Pear Export Act, but they were exempted in 1999 for similar reasons. In New York, it can cost up to $300 per truckload inspection, and now, if the bill is passed, that money will stay on the farm. Last year New York shipped over 1,500 loads to Canada. We appreciate the support that was given by Chris, Mark, and the NHC. Now we have to get it passed.