Last week, New York Senator Chuck Schumer announced his plan to introduce legislation entitled the Apple Profit Protection for Local Economies Act (APPLE-Act). The legislation would provide up to $20 million dollars per year for USDA to give out low-interest loans and grants to orchard owners to upgrade their orchards.
The objective, as stated, was to plant new and more profitable varieties. This announcement came as a surprise and shock to both the New York apple industry as well as the rest of the apple-producing country. Since both the New York Apple Association and the US Apple Association had no prior knowledge of this “act,” we were all somewhat blindsided.
I received a call from a local newspaper that asked, “Why should taxpayer’s dollars be used to subsidize apple growers?” Another reporter asked, “Don’t apple growers now replant orchards, and don’t they pay for it. Why does government need to pay?”
Perhaps the best call came from a friend in Washington State who asked, “What the hell are you New Yorkers doing now?”
Well, although we value our 32 votes in Congress, and we recognize the powerful position that both New York senators enjoy, one on the ag committee and the other chair of the immigration committee, New York apple growers did not ask for the APPLE-Act. We have reached out to the senators’ ag staff and, along with USApple, we are working closely with them to help identify important and vital programs that could be included in any apple legislation.
Of course our number-one concern is have a reliable and legal labor supply, and as the chair of the immigration committee Senator Schumer understands our needs. In addition, we are visiting about expanding export markets, increasing consumption, and supporting apple breeding and rootstock research for our industry. Senator Schumer supports increasing apple consumption in schools and supports the “Salad Bar in Schools” program. We have delivered the message, that increased consumption is needed to keep up with the present increased production that we now have and will continue to see in the near future. If I was a well-known NPR celebrity, I would now close with, “That’s what’s going on in Lake Country, where women are beautiful, nights are cold, and apples are tasty!”