The year 2011 will be a challenge for our industry as we enter into an era of reduced spending and, obviously, program cutting. In most cases, defeated House members were ousted because, well, “change” didn’t come as promised, and what change did happen, came with a huge price tag!

New leadership and new members are storming the Hill, flying a conservative flag of glory. Many may agree that finally, this has to happen, but with conservative spending comes cuts to programs that our industry supports. At the Washington Horticultural Society Annual meeting in December, Dr. Des O’Rourke called for increase spending for international promotions to increase exports. He didn’t just call for an increase, he called for tsunami of spending in that arena from a Washington level of 8 million, and the USAEC level of just over 1.5 million to a whopping 100 million dollars.

This is what it would take to significantly increase consumption of Washington State and USA apples in foreign markets, O’Rourke said. I don’t know if that figure is the right one, but I do know that his reasoning is correct.

Where will the money come from? First answer should be the industry, but the most popular answer for growers will be the Feds and the Market Access Program. Since a manageable domestic apple market benefits ALL apple growers in the United States, the entire apple industry needs to press this issue hard and diligently in D.C. With a ‘conservative’ congress, this will be a challenge. Fasten your seatbelts! The ride ahead could be a rough one!