Farmers have been growing apples here since before the Civil War, and as times have changed, they have changed with them, planting smaller trees to speed up harvests and growing popular new varieties to satisfy changing tastes.
But the growers who have made this mountainous region the core of apple-growing in Pennsylvania worry that they face a new challenge that may be too big to overcome and could change their way of life.
Like farmers in the bigger apple-producing states, they are becoming increasingly anxious about the prospect of China flooding the U.S. market with their fresh apples – an event many believe is inevitable, even if it could be years away.
They saw what happened in the 1990s when Chinese apple juice concentrate made it into the United States. Prices got so low, some U.S. juice companies were forced out of the U.S. market. Growers could no longer afford to grow apples just for making juice.
Meanwhile, someday, China might outpace the United States in apple production. Assuming, of course, apple buyers don’t fear that Chinese apples, like Chinese wheat gluten and toothpast, will actually kill you.
No, let’s identify what the apple growers fear today:
With the Farm Bill up for renewal this year for the first time since 2002, apple growers are pressing for an unprecedented amount of federal funding to develop technologies to make harvesting less costly, and aid to develop overseas markets.
They fear not getting their fair share of that amount withheld from your paycheck, citizen. Even if you prefer pears, the apple growers of America still want your business.
UPDATE: Jay Tea isn’t afraid of Chinese apples.