By Elise Stefanik
October 10th, 2o23
Apple season is one of my favorite times of year across Upstate New York and the North Country. From Rulfs Orchard and Forrence Orchards in Peru to Gunnison Orchards in Crown Point, New York’s 21st Congressional District is home to fantastic apple orchards.
Agriculture is truly the backbone of our economy in Upstate New York and the North Country, and I am proud to represent one of the top-producing states for apples in the nation. Our apple growers produce millions of bushels of apples a year to feed Americans and export delicious products throughout the world.
One of my top priorities in Congress is to support our farmers and apple growers and to elevate their priorities and concerns to the highest levels. Every five years, Congress is tasked with updating and improving our nation’s food and agricultural policies through the Farm Bill. It is essential we support specialty crops, including apples. In the Farm Bill, I am advocating for the reauthorization of research funding for the specialty crop industry through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. These programs are crucial to addressing the critical needs of the specialty crop industry by awarding competitive research grants. Through the appropriations process, I have consistently advocated for robust funding for these two critical programs for our apple orchards and growers.
I also support prioritizing funding for the Department of Agriculture’s Market Access Program, which helps market and promote U.S. agricultural products around the world including apples. Last year, the apple industry received more than $5.5 million in funding from this program, which is used to promote apples in more than 25 countries across the globe. It is vital for our apple farmers across Upstate New York and the North Country that we expand our agricultural exports by reaching new markets and growing our existing international ones.
This season, I urge you all to join me in supporting our local apple growers by taking your family apple picking. I hope to see you there!
Read the full op-ed in Sun Community News here.