So, you all think traveling around the world is interesting, exciting and all fun—exotic destinations, great food, nice hotels? I have to admit, for one brief moment prior to getting on an airplane for a 30 hour door-to-door trip, I, too, feel this way. But, as soon as I wake up at Pangborn (the airfield in Wenatchee, Washington) at ‘o-dark thirty,’ crammed into a seat designed for a 5’6,” 150 pound boy, I remember how ‘getting there’ is the hard part—and this is only the first trip of a 16-week annual travel schedule. The month of May brings an end to my extensive travels allowing for reflection. And, oh, how I need this reflection!

The end of travel, however, does not mean our efforts in foreign marketing are in any way reduced. For the Washington Apple Commission, the Market Access Program (MAP) is the vehicle to the ‘perceived’ easy-life. Without funding from MAP, which accounts for 76 percent of our entire export budget, the apple commission wouldn’t be able to support 28 individual promotion programs around the world. May brings the most strategic element allowing for the promotion of Washington apples—applying and competing for MAP dollars through the Unified Export Strategy (UES) process. Four WAC employees labor up to 60 days to write 17 perfectly and exquisitely prepared UES documents to secure funding for the 2011-2012 season. Yes, that’s 16 months from today. Thirty-four horticultural groups in the country compete for 200 million dollars, and the UES is the single-most important document that ensures our success in promoting your apples worldwide. My hat is off to Rebecca Baerveldt, Mid Riggs, Chris Scott, and Danelle Trovato.