Chicago —The U.S. Apple Association today kicked off its 126th annual Outlook Conference in Chicago. The in-person, two-day meeting will showcase growers, apple business leaders, and a full range of high-profile speakers and topics. USApple is one of the first agriculture associations to resume in-person conferences since COVID-19 began.
“Outlook attendance numbers show that the apple industry is ready to get back to seeing one another and having those in-person experiences as the ‘new normal’ begins to take shape,” said USApple President Jim Bair. “We are pleased that USApple is helping lead the industry forward by being one of the first association meetings to be held in person.”
The USApple Board of Directors earlier this year decided to move ahead with the CDC-guided, in-person conference since Chicago had reopened for business and attendees would have had access to a vaccine.
Kicking off the conference, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke to attendees via video.
“Whether you’re from Washington or New York, Michigan or California, or one of the many great states that helps ensure a viable apple industry here in the United States and abroad, I’m pleased to see you gathered together to discuss critical issues and to look toward the future,” Vilsack told growers.
During his remarks, Vilsack spoke of challenges facing the apple industry, including the need for further work to resolve outstanding trade commitments and tariff disputes. He also commended the apple industry for its work on the bipartisan Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
“This legislation provides farm workers, many of whom have lived in this country for years, an opportunity to earn citizenship,” said Vilsack. “It will also reform the H-2A program and provide more flexibility for employers and streamlines the visa process.”
Trade exports and reforming agriculture labor are both top priority issues for USApple.
“From a Gala to a Red Delicious or a Golden Delicious, the U.S. apple industry truly represents the best of America,” concluded Vilsack.
Also during Outlook, USApple will launch its new industry outlook report. “Industry Outlook 2021” provides the most up-to-date data and analysis on U.S. and global apple production, utilization and trade, while taking an in-depth look at the many trends and forces helping to shape the U.S. apple industry in real-time.
Some of the speakers slotted to speak at the two-day conference include Dr. Rachel Cheatham, Foodscape Group; Steve Lutz, Category Partners; Drew Lerner, World Weather, Inc.; Bruce Knight, Strategic Conservation Solutions; and Michael Anderson, Corn Refiners Association.