The House-Senate farm bill conference committee has confirmed the inclusion of US$94m in assistance for apple growers as part of the final farm bill. 

Specifically, apple growers will receive US$94m in direct market loss assistance to offset a portion of the devastating losses suffered during the 2000 apple crop.

Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), and Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) sponsored letters to farm bill conferees, urging members to retain assistance for apple growers as part of the final farm bill. They were joined by 50 members of the House and 22 senators in demonstrating strong bipartisan support for the assistance measure.

The Senate's version of the farm bill contained US$100m in assistance for apple growers as part of a US$2.4bn emergency agriculture assistance amendment. The US House of Representatives did not include a similar measure in its version of the farm bill.

"The apple assistance measure appears to be one of only a couple provisions from the original US$2.4bn amendment retained in the final farm bill," said US Apple Association (USApple) president and CEO Kraig R. Naasz. 

The conference report must still be approved by both the full House of Representatives and the Senate, before it can be presented to President George W. Bush to be signed into law.

"We are extremely appreciative of our industry's allies in the House and Senate for their staunch support of our nation's apple growers," said Naasz: "This assistance will come none too soon for many of America's apple growers, who have struggled mightily over the past few years to avoid drowning in deficit."

America's apple growers are experiencing the worst economic losses in more than 70 years, having lost nearly US$1.7bn since 1996, including an estimated US$700m over the past two years, according to US Department of Agriculture statistics.