But since the Trump era imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, retaliatory tariffs have tightened the market for the prized fruit. Now, Washington state’s congressional delegation is asking for help from the federal government.
Customers in India love red and delicious apples. But many red savory growers in the Northwest run traditional orchards—smaller family farms with less capacity to plant all the new trees or varieties.
Red Delicious apples are becoming increasingly unpopular in the US, with new varieties such as Opal, Juicy and fresh Cosmic Crisp putting Red Delicious growers at a disadvantage.
But for decades, growers of Red Delicious found a great home abroad – India. In 2017, Washington apple exports hit a new high of $120 million. But the Trump administration imposed steel and aluminum tariffs on India in 2018 – Pursuant to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act – Caused the Indian government to impose an additional 20% tax on US apple imports. This brings Northwest apple exports to India down to just $3 million.
Now, Washington state’s congressional delegation is asking for help from the federal government.
About a dozen politicians have signed a letter Ask the US Trade Representative and Secretary of Commerce to help remove India’s tariffs on Washington state apples. The letter comes on the occasion of a key trade policy forum with India this week.
Mark Powers is Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima.
“The market that used to be almost entirely developed by us in India now belongs to other countries exporting to India,” Powers said.
About 20 percent of Washington apples are now exported around the world, up from closer to 30 percent in the past, Powers said.
Apple President Todd Fryhover said this year was a relatively short one for apple production, with only about 102 million 40-pound boxes harvested Washington Apple Commission.
So India’s problems are sort of put on hold, because there’s less fruit being exported overall. Still, many Northwest growers were dealing with hailstorms last spring, summer heat, port shipping problems, increased inland shipping costs, tariffs from exporting countries, and even possible phytosanitary restrictions in Japan. It all adds up to making it difficult for apple growers with less capital to adapt to a rapidly changing workforce, science, varieties and an agribusiness environment that is rapidly consolidating, Fryhover said. Moreover, he said, foreign rivals such as China, Italy and Turkey are very competitive with India.
by death or dev
Congresswoman Kim SchrierA Democrat in Washington’s 8th district said it was difficult for family Red Delicious apple growers in places like Chelan and Wenatchee to weather bad weather and closed export markets.
It was the lowest red savory crop since 1968, the congressional delegation wrote in a release. Corporations, out-of-state entities are acquiring and consolidating larger operations, while smaller farms simply go out of business.
“Now they’re faced with pulling out the entire crop and growing it like Honey Crisp, or selling it to a developer,” Schrier said. “If these tariffs aren’t in place, we can save these family farms.”