Good Fruit Grower

December 2011

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Page 17 of 79

GOOD POINT Jim McFerson, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission Where has the roadmap led us? Production costs might not have dropped, but the industry has promising and profitable days ahead. profitable in the global marketplace unless it delivered the highest quality fruit to consumers and reduced production costs 30 percent. I will concede that overall production and handling costs have not been reduced at W all, let alone by 30 percent. However, I would assert that the overall quality of fruit and fruit products delivered to the consumer has never been better. I believe the national tree fruit industry is now committed to the vision of the Roadmap and its insistence on delivering the consumer a consistently superior product. Kudos go to industry for its increasing adoption of new technologies and application of science-based knowledge to enhance production, storage, and process- ing operations. Their investment in new genetics, new horticultural practices, new crop protection programs, and new postharvest tactics is paying off. Growing and delivering target fruit pays off because it meets market demands, cre- ates value, and delivers higher returns, thus reducing unit costs along the supply chain. Ultimately, what matters most is not the total cost, but profitability. as the Tree Fruit Technology Roadmap a success or failure? Around ten years ago, this novel research initiative boldly declared that the tree fruit industry would not be Credit for those new technologies and knowledge that enable industry innovation goes to the researchers and extension professionals across the country who have answered the Roadmap's call to address technical barriers through a systems approach focused on stakeholder priorities. The Roadmap played a significant role in the creation of a common vision, strategic research priorities, and a positive focus among agricultural scientists and research institutions involved with tree fruit, not only in the Pacific Northwest, but nationally. Equally important, the Roadmap helped generate funding opportunities of a sufficient magnitude to address industry problems. Similar initiatives of other specialty crops like berries, citrus, and wine and grape, joining with trade associations, contributed to the broad Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, which had a significant influence on the landmark 2008 Farm Bill. That fed- eral legislation, for the first time, created opportunities for specialty crop scientists to seek significant amounts of funding in competitive programs like the Specialty Crop Research Initiative. In its four years of existence, the SCRI has funded dozens of projects addressing stakeholder priorities in tree fruit and other specialty crops. In addition, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program has provided funding opportunities for further dozens of projects. While these achievements are threatened by the current congressional 18 DECEMBER 2011 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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