Apple Growers Have More Than a Few Reasons to See Red Right Now

When Ted McKinney, Under Secretary of Agriculture for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, spoke at U.S. Apple Association’s Outreach & Marketing Conference, he joked with getting “beat up” by the representatives from Washington state over dinner about the current state of trade in the U.S.


“We’re just trying to straighten out and set a level playing field,” he assured growers during the conference.

He also assured those in attendance it was never the president’s intention to hurt the U.S. farm economy.

But in reading between the lines, I think McKinney got the message that what’s going on has really hurt the U.S. apple industry. It seemed as though during the conversation the folks in Washington state relayed the severity of the current market.

It’s not easy to miss, though, just how much tariffs and export instability have impacted the fruit and nut market. Trade has made it tough for the 2018 apple crop and will create some serious headwinds for the 2019 apple crop. Then there’s the simple fact that fresh apple consumption is down, exacerbated by an overabundance of choice, which can lead to consumer confusion as our cover story highlights.

What can you do?

Keep speaking up on the issues that matter most to your farm, take advantage of speaking with representatives and lawmakers. Heck, invite them out to your farm during harvest to see what challenges you face on a day-to-day basis.

Use social media to tell the story of your operation to as many people as you can. Social media, despite its faults, can connect with so many folks and help connect you better with the produce buyers of the world.

Tell your story as best you can.

And speaking of making connections, it pains me to write this, but this will be my final column for American Fruit Grower magazine. I have accepted a position with another company in a new industry. I wish I could personally tell so many of you what your insights, patience, and gentle ribbing has meant to me over the years.

This has been an incredible experience. I’ve even been able to travel the globe, and you’ve come along for the ride.

I leave happy knowing how much my posts and columns have meant to you. I hope to show up as a “secret shopper” at some of your operations this fall and in future seasons as you’ve all spoiled me with some of the best fruits I will ever eat. I will never forget what I’ve learned from you.

Thank you, friends, for everything. I hope our paths cross very soon.