McGovern, Shaheen Urge Continued Effort from USDA on Policies to Help New England Apple Growers

WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Jim McGovern (MA-02) and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a bicameral letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) urging it to ensure federal crop insurance policies are supporting New England growers. The letter is a follow-up to a successful effort last year that halted specific proposed changes to apple crop insurance by USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) that would have been harmful to growers in New England. Joining McGovern and Shaheen on this letter are U.S Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Angus King (I-ME), Peter Welch (D-VT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) and U.S. Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Richard Neal (MA-01), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Stephen Lynch (MA-08), Becca Balint (VT at-large) and Jared Golden (ME-02).

The lawmakers wrote, in part, “Apple growers in New England face unique challenges and structural factors that often differ substantially from growers in other regions. In general, New England growers are underserved by federal agriculture support policies, including by crop insurance policies. The changing weather conditions and severe weather events that our growers are increasingly facing demonstrate the acute need to address this disparity and ensure a stronger safety net for our growers.”

They concluded, “We are particularly pleased that RMA [Risk Management Agency] is convening a working group of New England apple growers to better inform the agency’s future work and how its policies can better serve New England growers. We are very interested in monitoring the progress of this working group and request that the agency keep our offices informed on its work. We also encourage the agency to consider convening similar regional working groups for growers of other crops.”

The full text of the letter can be found here. As a result of McGovern and Shaheen's bicameral letter last year, regional apple growers are now engaged in conversations with USDA’s Risk Management Agency and are forming a working group made up of New England stakeholders to help inform better policymaking at the agency.