Falls Church, Va. — The U.S. Apple Association launched Apple Quest, an online game that informs players about the important role apple laborers play in the U.S. economy and the need for a stable, legal and reliable workforce. The throwback, 8-bit single-player game is at www.USAppleQuest.com.
Apple production—growing, pruning, harvesting and packing—is highly labor intensive. The U.S. apple industry is heavily dependent on migrant labor to fill these jobs. Yet, every year, because of a broken labor system, growers from coast to coast, large and small, report worker shortages.
“Picking fruit is physically demanding and requires skill and experience,” said USApple Senior Vice President Diane Kurrle. “Growers and rural communities depend on these harvest workers who, on average, create and sustain three to four permanent year-round jobs, many of them in rural communities. Losing our foreign-born workforce would have the same economic impact on these communities as factories closing and moving to other countries. We’re hoping this game shines a light on the critical shortage of agriculture labor in the apple industry and its impact on the overall economy.”
Each year, the U.S. apple industry is responsible for $21 billion in total economic output, $13 billion of which is directly tied to U.S. apple operations. Last year, 29 billion apples were harvested in the U.S., even as agricultural labor shortages affected the industry far and wide.
“Labor policies need to level up to meet the needs of a thriving agricultural economy,” said Kurrle. “USApple is urging Congress to pass legislation that provides meaningful agricultural labor reform.”
Anyone can play Apple Quest on their computer or handheld device by going to www.USAppleQuest.com.
“You’ll have to be quick to catch the apples before they fall,” says Kurrle, “And you’ll also learn about the important role apple laborers play.”