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U.S. apple growers suffer damage from government trade policy

Staff Writer |
The U.S. Apple Association said Wednesday that apple growers are suffering damage caused by the government's trade policy.

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The group, representing the country's 7,500 apple growers, about 40 state and regional apple associations and hundreds of apple-related companies, released nine tweets Wednesday on its official page, saying New York apple growers have discussed with Congress leaders on Capitol Hill critical trade issues affecting the industry.

The meeting was attended by two Senators and four Representatives, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Ellis Schumer, who is also a Senator from the New York state, it said.

Jim Bair, head of the U.S. Apple Association, was quoted by the tweet as saying that harvest is kicking off across the United States and that's normally a season of enthusiasm, but this year the impact of tariffs imposed by trading partners to retaliate the U.S. trade policy will be felt deeply across the industry.

In March, Mexico hit U.S. apples with a 20 percent tariff in retaliation for U.S. tariff hikes on steel and aluminum imports, the group said. Mexico is U.S. apples' top export market with a value of 291 million U.S. dollars in 2017.

"The recent trade agreement with Mexico is a good first step toward regaining that market, but it doesn't diminish the barriers," said Kaari Stannard, head of the association's New York Apples Sales. "Growers are still faced with a 20 percent tariff to our largest market because of steel and aluminum retaliation."

Meanwhile, Canada is not yet a party to the new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which could reopen duty-free access to the apple market of the two U.S. neighbors.

"As our number three export market, it (Canada) needs to be (a NAFTA party)," the association said.

Under the NAFTA, the U.S. apple industry had quadrupled its exports to Mexico and doubled its exports to Canada with a combined volume of nearly 450 million dollars per year.

In addition, since the U.S. apple industry gained full access to the Chinese market in 2015, the U.S. apple exports have increased to 2.5 million boxes per year and China is now the sixth largest export market of U.S. apples.

In cooperation with Farmers for Free Trade, a leading U.S. agricultural trade lobby group, the U.S. Apple Association in June placed advertisements on cable television, urging the White House to "end the trade war."

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