Just heard a blurb on NPR about a new bill U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants to introduce that would provide money in the form of grants and low-interest loans from the US Department of Agriculture. The bill is based on a similar Canadian program. Up to 20 million dollars could be provided to farmers as early as November of this year to pay for new trees to be planted the following year. The idea seems to be to facilitate the transition of "older" varieties such as McIntosh and Red Delicious to more "popular" varieties such as Galas and the beloved Honeycrisp. More info on the bill can be found here.
The government has a long history of dipping its wick in the agricultural wax so to speak, from farm subsidies to water rights. However, I hesitate to think this is all together a good thing. Continuing in a mono-culture mentality will only create the same boom and bust phenomenon that we have seen with Red and Golden Delicious. I think money could be better spent intoducing greater variety into the apple industry, through start-up grants to small farmers, further research into disease and pest management techniques and cultivation of the US and world palate to be more acepting of a greater variety of apples.
I understand that we live in a global age where "competition" with Canada and China is a real concern for many apple growers, however success can sometimes be found by moving outside of the accepted market rather than competing within it. This is all from the perspective of a non-grower, only my opinion. Input welcomed.