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U.S. Apple Association Joins Call to Address Nation’s Agriculture Labor Needs

Mark Gedris,
Director – Membership & Comm.  
USApple Association

Association Among Groups Launching New Labor Coalition

Vienna, VA – Seeking legislation that ensures America’s apple orchards, packing houses and other apple operations have access to a stable and skilled workforce, USApple today announced its leadership role in the newly formed Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC). The AWC will serve as the unified voice of agriculture on labor and agricultural employment.

The Coalition today released its framework proposal that will include both an earned adjustment in status for current experienced farm workers and a new program to ensure that producers continue to have access to a workforce as current agricultural employees move on to other jobs. A key to the framework will be ensuring that it meets the needs of all of agriculture—both those employers with seasonal labor needs and those who provide year-round employment opportunities.

The U.S. apple industry is diverse with apples being grown commercially in 36 states. The size of operations and the specific labor needs of these operations vary greatly. Large growers will typically need more than 1,000 harvest workers while smaller growers might only need five or ten. Collectively, we are a $2.5 billion industry and need over 70,000 harvest workers to get the crop off of the trees each year. The apple industry plays a major role in rural economies, with each of these harvest workers supporting two to three other employees in job like sales & marketing, administrative and transportation.

“Apple growers face a labor crisis and need immigration reform to ensure American apples are harvested each year. Each apple – over 20 billion—must be picked by hand. Apples are also a cultural icon in our national heritage,” said Nancy Foster, president & CEO of the U.S. Apple Association. “The old adage, ‘As American as apple pie,’ will be obsolete unless this labor crisis is solved because we will import our fruit and export our jobs. We look forward to being a key contributor to the Agriculture Workforce Coalition to ensure apple growers and packers as well as other agriculture operations have access to the workers they need to maintain their productivity and competitiveness.”

Additional information on the AWC can be found on its website, www.agworkforcecoalition.org.

The U.S. Apple Association (USApple) is the national trade association representing all segments of the apple industry. Members include 40 state and regional apple associations representing the 7,500 apple growers throughout the country, as well as more than 400 individual firms involved in the apple business. USApple's mission is to provide the means for all segments of the U.S. apple industry to join in appropriate collective efforts to profitably produce and market apples and apple products.