News Releases

U.S. Senator Patty Murray Introduces Bill to Help Washington's Apple Growers

Jun 12 2001

Legislation would provide $250 million in emergency payments; Washington state growers would receive $85 million

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – In an effort to aid struggling apple farmers, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) today joined with a bi-partisan coalition of senators to introduce a bill that would provide $250 million in emergency payments to growers nationwide and an estimated $85 million to Washington state farmers. While the current budget resolution provides $5.5 billion in emergency farm relief, the majority of this money is earmarked for major commodities, like wheat, that have traditionally received federal assistance.

Senator Murray noted that rural communities and agricultural producers have not enjoyed America's recent economic prosperity. Around the nation, nearly all commodity producers are enduring low prices and trade challenges. In Washington state these problems are compounded by a severe drought and the energy crisis.

"This bill would provide much needed assistance to Washington's apple farmers," said Murray. "Apple growers from Okanogan County to Walla Walla County are going bankrupt. Many family farmers have given up hope. Congress must act now to provide relief to this struggling industry."

Murray's legislation builds on a $100 million package for apple producers that she helped to pass last year. If the full package is adopted, apple growers in Washington state could receive more than $85 million. Under Senator Murray's bill, payments to producers would be based on their 2000 production records, with no production over 20 million pounds considered.

"This legislation will give the industry the financial support it needs to get through another year of disastrous prices. It will also give us the time we need to develop long-term solutions as part of the next farm bill for apple and other specialty crop growers."

Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined Senator Murray in introducing the bill.

Senator Murray's Statement on Emergency Aid for Apple Farmers

Mrs. MURRAY. Mr. President, I rise today to express my strong support for legislation to provide $250 million in emergency payments to apple growers. I would like to thank Senators LEVIN and SNOWE for their leadership on this issue.

Mr. President, rural communities and agricultural producers have not enjoyed America's recent economic prosperity. Around the nation, nearly all commodity producers are enduring low prices and trade challenges. In Washington state, these problems are compounded by a severe drought, an energy crisis, and fish listings under the Endangered Species Act.

The combined impact is devastating. Apple growers in my state – from Okanogan County to Walla Walla County – are going bankrupt. Many family farmers have given up hope. On land that has produced high quality fruit for generations, farmers are tearing out orchards. Farmer cooperatives and other businesses that have been a part of rural communities for decades have closed up shop. Local governments have seen tax revenue decline. And non-farm businesses have struggled as consumers no longer have the cash to buy their goods and services.

In the 106th Congress, we responded. Last year, I worked with my colleagues to pass a $100 million emergency package for apple growers. In 1999, I worked with the Clinton Administration to end the dumping by Chinese companies of non-frozen apple juice concentrate. And on a host of smaller issues – from fighting pests in abandoned orchards, to securing research funding, to breaking down trade barriers – I worked with the industry and other stakeholders to build a stronger foundation for the future.

We can be proud of what we accomplished. But we still have more to do in the 107th Congress.

If signed into law, this new legislation will provide $250 million in emergency payments to apple growers nation-wide. This emergency legislation will not save every producer. It will give the industry the financial support it needs to get through another year of disastrous prices. It will also give us the time we need to develop long-term solutions as part of the next farm bill for apple and other specialty crop growers.

I urge my colleagues to support this legislation. And I urge the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee to work with the sponsors of this bill to provide meaningful assistance to all apple growers.