A bipartisan group of members of Congress have urged House and Senate farm bill conferees to include US$100m in emergency market loss assistance for apple growers in the final version of the farm bill. 

Specifically, Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) garnered the support of 48 fellow members of the House of Representatives, while Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) were joined by 17 of their Senate colleagues on letters to House and Senate farm bill conferees.

"We are writing to express our strong support for the US$100m in emergency apple market loss assistance," wrote the members of Congress: "Without this ad-hoc direct assistance, mounting losses will force as many as 30% of America's apple growers to lose their farms.

"We believe it is critical that the emergency assistance program adopted by the Senate be retained as a provision to the farm bill."

On 12 February, the Senate adopted an amendment offered by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) that allocates US$2.4bn in emergency farm aid, including US$100m in assistance to offset a portion of the devastating losses apple growers sustained in marketing the 2000 apple crop. The Baucus amendment was passed as part of the Senate farm bill on 14 February.
           
"We greatly appreciate the efforts of our industry's allies in both the House and Senate to come to the aid our nation's apple growers," said US Apple Association (USApple) President and CEO Kraig R. Naasz, whose group is spearheading efforts to garner congressional support of the apple assistance measure. 

The US House of Representatives-passed version of the farm bill does not contain a market loss assistance measure for apple growers. House and Senate farm bill conferees are currently working to reconcile the many differences between their respective versions of this legislation, including the apple market loss assistance provision. House and Senate conferees hope to conclude their negotiations 9 April.

USApple members from 15 apple producing states advocated support of the market loss assistance measure, along with other farm bill provisions favored by the apple industry, during their visits to Capitol Hill the week of 11 March.