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Local apple leaders go to Washington

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At the U.S. Apple Association annual meeting March 23 in Washington, D.C. were, from left, Mike and Megan Wade of Columbia Fruit Packers, and Lindsey Huber and Todd Fryhover of the Washington Apple Commission.

WENATCHEE — Local members of a statewide apple group and area fruit growers recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with congressional legislators about the future of agriculture and the nation’s health.

Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission, and Lindsey Huber, the group’s international marketing specialist, were joined by Mike Wade, general manager of Columbia Fruit Packers and daughter Megan Wade, data analyst at Crunch Pak,  at the U.S. Apple Association’s annual congressional fly-in March 23.

The fly-in brought together nearly 60 apple industry leaders for one-on-one meetings with U.S. senators and representatives, including a sit-down with Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington.

Sen. Cantwell has been a long-time supporter of the agriculture industry,” said Mike Wade. “A group of about 15 of us sat down with her and staff to discuss some of the issues affecting our industry.”

Wade said growers asked congressional leaders to consider issues impacting the ag industry, local family businesses and individual growers’ roles in sustaining the nation’s food supply.

One topic discussed was the preservation and expansion of gains made by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The agreement is “one of the most competitive and successful regional economic platforms in the world,” according to a USApple press release.

Another issue was continuation of federal funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program, which has contributed to expansion of U.S. fresh apple exports by nearly 150 percent since 1986. More than 30 percent of the nation’s fresh apple crop is exported overseas, which means “international trade is critical to the health and future of the entire industry,” said the USApple press release.

USApple is a trade association representing 7,500 growers in 40 states, along with 400 businesses association with the apple industry.

Mike Irwin: 665-1179



Reach Mike Irwin at 509-665-1179 or . Read his blog Everyday Business. follow him on Twitter at @MikeIrwinWW.