CTGC incoming president Ian LeMay has provided recommendations focused on enhancing competitiveness in the US marketplace and overseas

California red grapes Adobe Stock

Image: Adobe Stock

The California Table Grape Commission has said it is providing the USDA with input on ways to enhance competitiveness, as part of its focus on the long-term viability of the industry.

This input will be made through formal comments as well as testimony provided at the CDFA state board hearing in Tulare, California.

The testimony, offered by the Commission’s incoming president Ian LeMay, provided recommendations focused on enhancing competitiveness in the US marketplace, expanding exports, extending USDA food purchases for those in need, supporting research initiatives, and encouraging adoption of new technologies.

According to LeMay, the purpose of the testimony before the state board was to encourage inclusion of table grape grower priorities in the comments that CDFA will make to USDA on behalf of the state’s specialty crop growers.

“Competitiveness has long been a commission priority,” said LeMay. “We hope that the state board sees value in the recommendations and includes them in its feedback to USDA.”


Noting the need to sell more US-grown products to US consumers, the recommendations included establishment of a domestic promotion programme modelled after the successful Market Access Program (MAP).

The new programme would allow grower organisations to apply for and match funds to promote in the US; ”the biggest market in the world and one that is critical to the survival of table grape growers”.

To expand exports, the commission urged support for a doubling of MAP funding in the next Farm Bill.

Citing the pride that table grape growers feel in providing nutritious food to those in need, the commission recommended an increase in the annual financial commitment for the purchase of fruits and vegetables to distribute to those who are food insecure.

A pilot programme that expands procurement to include fresh fruits and vegetables in international food aid programs was also recommended.

Finally, noting that economic viability requires research, innovation, and adoption, the commission advocated support for legislation establishing a fund for mechanisation research and for the development of a grant programme to help growers adopt new technology.

Additional funding for USDA table grape varietal research is sought to help ensure that future varieties are resistant to pests, diseases, and weather; and are affordable to produce, stable to ship, and meet consumer expectations.