Almost 100 apple growers from across the country traveled to Washington D.C. this week for the U.S. Apple Association’s annual Capitol Hill Day.
Growers visited more than 100 lawmakers’ offices on March 13 to talk about trade, labor and the implementation of the farm bill, according to a news release from USApple.
On the trade front, growers asked lawmakers to ratify the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement that would maintain duty-free access for apples to the country’s largest export markets worth about $450 million a year. Another major concern is the retaliatory tariff Mexico placed on U.S. apples in response to the Trump Administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs, which has cost growers $300 million in losses so far, according the USApple.
“One out of every three apples is exported, and duty-free access to Mexico and Canada has been a tremendous benefit for the U.S. apple industry,” said USApple President and CEO Jim Bair. “Unfortunately, because of the section 232 tariffs, Mexico has unleashed a significant retaliatory tariff on our growers, costing the industry millions of dollars in export losses. It’s imperative that section 232 tariffs are removed and the USMCA ratified.”
Growers also urged lawmakers to tackle the issue of agricultural labor, asking for reforms or replacement of the H-2A program that would help the industry manage a stable and predictable supply of seasonal farm workers.