U.S. Apple Association board chair Kaari Stannard, president of New York Apples Sales, and New York apple grower Brett Baker met with Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y.,(center) and other lawmakers and staff Sept. 5 about apple industry priorities. ( US Apple )

Even as harvest accelerated, New York apple industry leaders rose early Sept. 5 to fly to Washington D.C. to lobby on critical trade issues.

They made the trip a priority, said Diane Kurrle, senior vice president of the U.S. Apple Association, because they are concerned about the effect that numerous trade disputes could have on the market this season.

The New York delegation met with Sen. Chuck Schumer, N.Y., Rep. John Faso, R-N.Y, and other lawmakers and staff representing New York.

“They wanted to make sure that their lawmakers understood that even though most of the exports come from Washington state, that those trade ramifications will ripple throughout the whole industry and New York will be hurt just as much if not more,” she said.

While growers are optimistic about a handshake trade deal with Mexico, Kurrle said New York apple leaders underscored the importance of having Canada be part of an agreement.

The top export market for U.S. apples, Mexico is critical to American apple growers. 

In March, in retaliation for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum, Mexico hit the U.S. apple industry with a 20% tariff. The new agreement with Mexico doesn’t remove those tariffs. What’s more, Canada was not yet a party to the new agreement as of Sept 6. 

“While we appreciate this initial first step by the administration, growers are still faced with a 20% barrier to our largest market,” Kaari Stannard, U.S. Apple board chairwoman and president of New York Apples Sales, said in a news release. “One out of three apples grown is destined for export with a value of more than a billion dollars annually, so trade is critical to the apple industry. That’s especially true in states like New York where rural economies rely on a healthy agriculture sector, of which apple exports play a significant role.”

“The apple harvest is just kicking off across America and that’s normally a season of enthusiasm,” U.S. Apple president and CEO Jim Bair said in the release. “But this year the impact of disputes with Mexico, India, Canada and China, our No. 1, 2, 3 and 6 export markets, will be felt deeply across the industry. Our growers want Congress to know the damage being caused in their jurisdictions by these trade disputes.”