On March 23rd, 2017, our very own Mark Nicholson, co-owner of Red Jacket Orchards, and Matt Murphy, Assistant Farm Manager, were among nearly 60 apples growers from across the U.S. who convened on Capitol Hill to discuss and advocate for hard-hitting issues affecting agriculture in our country.
Mark and Matt met with Congressman Katko, Congressman Collins, as well as staff from Congressman Reed and Congresswoman Slaughter’s offices to discuss critical issues affecting our nation in the areas of food supply, national health, and the future of agriculture in NY state and our country as a whole.
“The apple industry generates just under 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in New York, and is the top revenue generating fruit crop produced in the state,” notes Mark. “Our Congressional delegation from both sides of the aisle is keenly aware of the importance our industry plays in the local economy, and these annual face to face visits in Washington help to strengthen that understanding.”
Apple growers asked Congress to consider the most important issues impacting their profession. The conversations centered around these critical issues:
• AGRICULTURE LABOR REFORM: Apple production – growing, pruning, harvesting and packing – is highly labor intensive. The industry is heavily dependent on migrant labor and H-2A workers to farm and process apples and apple products. Each year, growers large and small report worker shortages. USApple, the voice of the apple industry, urges Congress to pass legislation that provides meaningful agricultural labor reform, replacing or significantly reforming the current H-2A guestworker program to ensure a stable, adequate and predictable supply of agriculture labor.
• TRADE: Canada, Mexico, and the United States combine to make up one of the most competitive and successful regional economic platforms in the world. Additionally, Canada and Mexico, two NAFTA countries, are the top two export destinations for apples grown in the U.S. USApple urges Congress to preserve and expand upon the gains that have been achieved by NAFTA within these countries.
“With a new President and a new Congress, now is a critical time to advocate for the apple industry,” said Jim Bair, President and CEO of USApple. “We thank Mark Nicholson and Matt Murphy for adding a leadership voice to our message and being a part of the solution. It is appreciated.”
We, too, want to take a moment to thank our fearless leaders for being a part of the solution. Advocating for our workers, our industry, and our nation as a whole are noble causes that can not be ignored. This is one of the many reasons why we love Red Jacket Orchards.