US Apple Export Council (USAEC) board members and representatives met in Washington, DC this week to develop a strategic plan for the council’s international market development programs. Two days following the presidential inauguration, DC seemed back to normal and business as usual as apple industry leaders planned for enhancing US agricultural exports overseas. As principal consultant, I was retained to facilitate this planning process and work with the Council’s executive director to prepare for and lead the workshop.
The workshop participants were from the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Michigan and California. Fresh apples from these states are successfully exported to counties in Europe, S.E. Asia, Central America, Israel, Canada, Mexico, and India. This success in due in large part to the market development resources administered by the USAEC for the member states to expand exports of US apples to these target countries. The Foreign Agricultural Service of the USDA provides these funds as part of the Market Access Program (MAP). US farm products are some of the highest quality in the world and these MAP funds aid American farmers in selling their food and agricultural products in foreign markets that are often hard to access. USAEC works to direct those MAP funds to the best markets for US apple growers to be profitable.
A recent study (2016) completed by Cornell University, Arizona State University and Purdue analyzed the cost-benefit of the MAP program for US fresh fruit. The study included USAEC and Washington State apples, California cherries, Northwest pears, and Florida citrus The study found that the eccoccmic impact of the program to local and national economy was “positive and substantial”. In 2104, export revenues were increased by over 31% and total economic output of the US (GDP) was increased by nearly $500 million. Real farm income rose by over $100 million and farm asset values went up by over $460 million – just from the fresh fruit portion of MAP. What is notable is that the benefits were not just for US agriculture and apple producers. This study also found that there was an increase in economic benefits for the rest of the world of $843 Million. We trust the new administration will realize the benefits of this program for US farmers and continue to fund it.
It was great to work with the USAEC executive board on this strategic plan. It is good to know that many family farms from Virginia, New York and Michigan to California will benefit from their dedication and vision.