The recently passed legislation that funds the federal government contains a couple of nuggets that will benefit the tree fruit industry.
The bill — the one that narrowly avoided a government shutdown at the end of 2020 after President Trump and U.S. Congress argued about the size of stimulus checks — includes money for states to pay for their share of running the H-2A program and language that should help in the fight against little cherry disease, according to the Northwest Horticultural Council.
The 2021 funding bill, signed into law by the president on Dec. 27, includes more than $20 million in grants to compensate states for their expenses administering the H-2A program, 30 percent more than last year, the council noted. In 2019, Washington administrators asked state lawmakers to impose a fee on growers who hire H-2A workers, citing rising program costs. Lawmakers turned down the fee, but tree fruit lobbyists suspect some may try again this year.
Also, the law includes language to prioritize research to detect and mitigate little cherry disease throughout the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which should help scientists secure grant funding going forward.