Three federal legislators from New York want to see the end to an inspection requirement that the apple industry contends is unnecessary and redundant.
Introduced by Rep. Bill Owens, D-N.Y., and co-sponsored by Rep. Richard Hanna, R-N.Y., House Bill 1298 would exempt bulk shipments of apples to Canada from inspections required by an act from 1933.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., plans to introduce similar legislation in the Senate.
Gillibrand, who was recently appointed to the President’s Export Council, also sent a letter to President Obama urging the White House to support the exemption.
Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, Fishers, N.Y., said the industry has been working for two years to get the inspection requirement dropped for bulk shipments to Canada.
He said he believes Canada is the only country receiving bulk shipments of apples from the U.S.
Allen estimated shippers would save up to $300 per truckload if the exemption is approved. Last year New York sent about 1.5 million bushels of bulk apples to Canada. Allen said shippers could have saved about $450,000 if they had not been required to pay for inspections.
Both Allen and Nancy Foster, president of the U.S. Apple Association, Vienna, Va., said the requirement in the 1933 export law is outdated.
They said inspections by Canadian receivers provide the quality control that was the intent of the original act, which also applied to pears until they were exempted in 1999.
“Our board signed a statement of support (for ending the requirement) in March 2012,” Foster said.
“It’s one thing if you are spending money and getting something for it. But to pay for something that is unnecessary and redundant is another thing.”
Allen said shippers in the Lake Champlain area in particular face unnecessary delays in addition to costs because of the inspection requirement.
He said in the last couple of years New York has lost about 20 inspectors because of budget cuts, leaving the Lake Champlain area with none.
“The shippers have to call out an inspector, wait for them to arrive, and pay for an inspection of their apples that will be inspected in Canada anyway,” Allen said.
Foster said congressional action to end the inspection requirement would help apple shippers across the country, not just those in New York.
Owens introduced an identical bill in 2012, but it was attached to the farm bill and did not gain approval.
When he introduced the 2012 version of his legislation, Owens said the inspection requirement had outlived its usefulness.
“This is an annoyance and an expense, several hundred dollars per load, but more importantly, it’s a delay,” according to a statement Owens released at that time.