Rod Snyder, the Senior Advisor for Agriculture to the EPA Administrator, visited USDA’s Appalachian Fruit Research Station in Kearneysville, WV at the invitation of the U.S. Apple Association (USApple). Jim Bair and Mitchell Liwanag from USApple attended the tour, as well as Virginia grower and USApple Board Member, Philip Glaize III, and West Virginia apple grower, Don Dove.

Snyder and the group of stakeholders were briefed on cutting-edge fruit tree research at the station, including:

  1. Carbon accounting and deficit irrigation, by Andrew Bierer, USDA Research Soil Scientist;
  2. Root architecture and rootstock-scion interactions by Lisa Tang, USDA Research Horticulturist;
  3. Fast track breeding and development of stacked resistance traits (both biotic and abiotic) by Chris Gottschalk, USDA Research Geneticist and Breeder;
  4. Understanding the impact of rapid apple decline and other undescribed viruses on apple trees, by Tami Collum, USDA Research Plant Pathologist.
L to R: Mitchell Liwanag (USApple), Andrew Bierer (USDA Research Soil Scientist), Rod Snyder (EPA), Philip Glaize III (Grower).

“Federal investments in agricultural research are vitally important as we work to build a more resilient, productive and sustainable food system,” said Rod Snyder, Senior Advisor for Agriculture to the EPA Administrator. “EPA values our science-based partnerships with USDA, USApple, and other agricultural stakeholders as we seek to address emerging pest and disease pressures, as well as the ongoing impacts of climate change.”

Much of the research happening at the Research Station has implications for finding resistance to diseases like fire blight – a bacterial disease that can very quickly wipe out entire apple orchards. Other research on greenhouse gas mitigation opportunities in orchards could be key to serving as another agriculture-based solution to address climate change.

“Rod Snyder’s visit to the Appalachian Fruit Research Station, to familiarize himself with important apple research, illustrates his commitment to our industry,” said Jim Bair, President & CEO of USApple. “We appreciate his desire to learn about the interface of environmental protection and apple growers’ commitment to being good stewards of the land.”

L to R: Lisa Tang (USDA Research Horticulturist) describing ongoing root research, Tracy Leskey (USDA Supervisory Research Entomologist), Rod Snyder (EPA), Mitchell Liwanag (USApple)

The Appalachian Fruit Research Station conducts fundamental, applied, and developmental research on critical problems of temperate fruit production (apples, peaches, pears, plums, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries). The Appalachian Fruit Research Station develops new knowledge, germplasm, and technology to maximize productivity and quality of fruit crops, and minimize the adverse effects of biotic and environmental factors on fruit crops to ensure a stable and cost-efficient supply of safe and nutritious fruits to American consumers.


USApple is the national trade association representing all segments of the apple industry. Members include 36 state and regional apple associations, representing 26,000 apple growers throughout the country and more than 3,700 apple-related companies. Our members collectively grow more than 10 billion pounds of apples a year on average, supporting about 150,000 jobs and generating more than $8 billion in total wages and almost $23 billion in economic activity.