Local House members ask USDA to buy apples
By Brian Tumulty • Journal Washington Bureau • May 6, 2009
WASHINGTON — Forty-four House members and two senators have sent letters asking the Department of Agriculture to help reduce an excess inventory of fresh apples by purchasing a minimum 1 million boxes for the National School Lunch Program and other federal nutrition programs.
Jim Allen, president of the New York Apple Association, said Wednesday the intent is to reduce the amount of last year's bumper crop held in storage before this year's harvest begins in August.
Allen predicted the proposed government purchase would have only a small impact on retail process.
"It will just help move the product,'' he said . "It’s just a win-win. It's healthy and nutritional for the children.''
The USDA announced this week it plans to spend up to $16.3 million for processed apple products that will be used in federal nutrition assistance programs. Another $25 million will be used to buy dry beans.
The lawmakers requesting the fresh apple purchase include 13 members of New York's House delegation, including Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-Hurley, and John Hall, D-Dover.
Massa, D-Corning, and Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., were the lead sponsors of the letter from the House members. Washington state is the nation's No. 1 apple producer, followed by New York.
According to the New York Apple Association, the state produced 30 million bushels of apples last year, which generated $300 million in revenue for apple growers.