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A US federal proposal is being put forward that would provide an estimated US$20 million (NZ$27 million) for apple farmers to switch to new varieties such as Honeyscrips that sell at a premium compared to the traditional variety such as McIntosh, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.

Democrat Senator Charles Schumer of New York was quoted as saying on Thursday that his proposal would provide $20 million for apple farmers to switch to new varieties.

The grants and low-interest loans from the Agriculture Department would help pay for the new plantings in November and the loss of revenue during the three years of growth needed before the new variety can be picked, the report says.

The measure will help apple growers from Washington state to New York compete with Canada and China, the report adds.

In Canada, Honeycrisp apples gave the industry an 800% boost when McIntosh trees were replaced with the new variety, according to CBC News. But Nova Scotia orchards are already looking for newer varieties to excite consumers when the red-hot demand for Honeycrisp falls.

Nationally, 7,500 apple growers produce 100 varieties in 36 states in a crop valued near $2 billion, according to the US Apple Association, a trade group. Washington, followed by New York, are the top-producing states.

Farmers in New York and elsewhere need the federal help to pay for the quick transition to capitalise on the demand for new varieties and the loans and grants will speed the process by years, Schumer was quoted as saying.

Apple growers will be able to apply for the funding, if approved in Washington, to grow new varieties including those being developed at Cornell University in upstate New York. The University of Minnesota developed the Honeycrisp, which thrives in colder climates, as well as the new SweeTango variety.

There are 1,350 apple farms in every part of the state north of New York City. They employ about 17,000 people, according to the report.

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