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USApple criticizes Congress for lack of action on ag labor

jim bair fwma press conference

Statement by Jim Bair, President & CEO of U.S. Apple Association BB #:145473, December 22, 2022:

“This week the Senate will adjourn without finishing its work. The House twice passed bipartisan legislation to reform our broken agriculture labor system and the Senate failed to act. A good bill passed the House, and a better one was introduced in the Senate. To get right up to the finish line – but not cross it – is a bitter pill to swallow when the bill would have improved the ag workforce picture by every measure.

“The U.S. apple industry applauds the bipartisan efforts of Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and others for their efforts in the House. We also are thankful to Rep. Mike Crapo (R-ID) who worked for 18 months with Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) to craft bipartisan legislation, but in the end could not garner the level of support needed to get it across the finish line. Senator Bennet continued those efforts and worked tirelessly, and we are proud to have worked with him and thank him for his leadership. But in the end, it wasn’t enough. Apple growers across the country are now left to fend for themselves as input costs rise, export markets decline and the cost of labor will increase January 1, by as much as 12 percent.

“As a new Congress will soon be sworn in, we will not give up seeking these important reforms. We hope that they can find it in themselves to roll up their sleeves, get to work and find a solution. Apple growers do this every day. They are making tough decisions to determine if they can continue producing America’s favorite fruit for another year, or if what has been a livelihood for three, four or more generations stops with this one.”