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Brett Kast named a ‘Young Apple Leader’ by US Apple Association

Posted 29 March 2015 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Brett Kast of Albion is pictured in Washington, D.C. He was in the nation’s capital recently to press for immigration reform and other issues that affect the apple industry.

Press Release
U.S. Apple Association

ALBION – Brett Kast, a fifth-generation apple farmer from Albion, was selected by the U.S. Apple Association for the 2015 Class of Young Apple Leaders.

In its sixth year, U.S. Apple’s Young Apple Leaders Program mentors the next generation of American apple growers and leaders. The program provides orientation, understanding and encouragement on public policy issues affecting the apple business.

It is designed to foster fellowship and cooperative working relationships across U.S. apple growing regions through discussions about key apple industry issues, trends, research and other activities.

This year, 16 young growers were selected from across the country, representing seven states.

“These young people will be the future decision-makers in their businesses, communities, and at U.S. Apple,” said U.S. Apple Chairman Mark Nicholson.

Kast was one of two chosen from New York, which is the second-largest apple producing state in the country, behind only Washington. Also, apples are the fourth-largest agricultural commodity produced within the state of New York.

Kast grew up on the family farm, Kast Farms. He is now the orchard manager and works closely with his father David and brother John in the operation.

Brett returned to the farm in 2008 after a year working on the oil rigs of Texas. He works mainly in the fruit side of the operation. He has expanded it into modern tall spindle plantings, including acreage of the new varieties Snapdragon and Rubyfrost.
Brett is a part of the NYAG organization and serves on the variety evaluation committee. Brett is an avid hunter and traveler. He is now spending days on the farm working in a partnership with his father and brother.

The young leaders joined forces with apple leaders from coast-to-coast for U.S. Apple’s Capitol Hill Day, an annual event hosted by U.S. Apple. They brought a unified message to Capitol Hill: pass immigration reform, our business is depending on it.

Kast met with the offices of Charles Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY) as well as Representative Chris Collins (R-NY) and House Majority Leader Kevin Mcarthy (R-CA), among others.

The apple industry is heavily dependent on migrant labor, H-2A, and H-2B workers to grow, harvest, pack and process apples and apple products. For a perishable crop like apples, a delay in the arrival of harvest workers can impact the quality and value of the apples.

Growers also emphasized the economic impact they have on the local community and the jobs that harvest workers support. Securing a legal, stable and reliable workforce will continue to be U.S. Apple’s top legislative priority.