California Kiwifruit Farmers Seek President Obama”s Help

“We are asking President Obama to urge American consumers and retailers to buy California-grown kiwifruit,” says T.A. Heckel, a California kiwifruit grower from Fresno County and chairman of the California Kiwifruit Commission. “California kiwifruit farmers are facing tremendous threats due to imports from Italy and other countries. Now, more than ever, we need Americans to choose domestically grown-kiwifruit or we could be forced to lay people off and even go out of business.”

California farmers produced nearly 6 million seven-pound tray equivalents during the 2008 harvest season accounting for over 90 percent of all kiwifruit produced in the United States. The problem is that currently close to 30 percent of the crop still remains to be sold – a very high number for this late in the season. The Kiwifruit Commission is hopeful that during these tough economic times the American consumer will understand how important their purchasing choices are in supporting local communities and that they will choose California-grown kiwifruit.

In the letter to the President the Kiwifruit Commission states, “It is important that Americans take action to support the economy by purchasing locally produced goods whenever possible. The reality is that the strength of our national economy is directly connected to the successes of the local community farmers and businesses, and to that end we request that you strongly support the purchase of American goods by consumers.”

“Times are tough for many Americans, and what we are asking is for American consumers to make sure the kiwifruit they purchase are grown in California,” said Chris Zanobini, manager of the California Kiwifruit Commission. “We encourage consumers to ask their retailers for California grown kiwifruit.”

Kiwifruit is ounce-for-ounce the most nutritious fruit according to a study conducted by Rutgers University. In addition California kiwifruit growers are subject to very stringent laws that govern production practices and the fruit is inspected by the U.S. government to ensure quality.

“It seems to continue to be a struggle to get California retailers to keep our product on the shelves when they are inundated with imported fruit during the California kiwifruit season,” said Heckel. “Americans need to stop sending our money oversees to other countries and keep it in our local economy. Our hope in contacting President Obama is that he can make people understand how a decision as seemingly insignificant as purchasing kiwifruit grown by California farmers will be a significant step in turning our country’s economic situation around – one California-grown kiwifruit at a time!”

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