With nearly 50 percent of the United States considered farmland, and fruit and vegetable farms occupying 14 million acres, everyone – from growers to retailers to consumers – is affected by agriculture policies. It is imperative that Congress passes legislation and reauthorizes nutrition and agriculture programs that support growers’ and producers’ ability to provide an abundant, nutritious food supply across the country and around the globe.
The 2018 Farm Bill was signed by President Trump on December 20, 2018. To facilitate and ensure a smooth implementation process of the 2018 Farm Bill, United Fresh will be working with USDA and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance.
Major Policy Initiatives Included in 2018 Farm Bill:
- Specialty Crop Block Grants – Provides $85 million per year, which represents a significant increase in total funding for the program over the five-year lifespan.
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative – Allows all specialty crops to compete for the full $80 million per year for specialty crop research. The bill provides a $25 million per year for the creation of a citrus trust fund to help combat citrus greening.
- Pest and Disease – Maintains FY2018 funding at $75 million per year for pest and disease research.
- Mechanization – Language was included throughout the research title to ensure the prioritization of research into mechanization in various USDA programs.
- Trade Programs – Creates a new International Market Development Program, which contains several trade programs including MAP and TASC. The revised structure will continue to ensure that both programs continue receiving funding at existing levels of no less than $200 million and $9 million per year respectively.
- Federal Nutrition Programs – The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program continues to be funded and FINI is funded at $250 million.
- National Organic Program – A number of changes were made to the legislation to both protect the domestic organic market and ensure that foreign competitors are in compliance with U.S. organic food production.
- New Program for Urban Agriculture – USDA will establish a new office to assist urban farmers and indoor growers to help them access federal assistance, gain insight into best practices and ensure their eligibility for risk management tools.
- New Risk Management Tools for Specialty Crops – Legislation requires the head of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation to consider development of at least one new risk management tool for specialty crop producers each year.
Learn how the 2014 Farm Bill generates value for the produce industry by viewing the following info-graphics. Click image to enlarge.
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Farm Bill By the Numbers
- Specialty crop production in the U.S. accounts for $66 billion in farm gate value and 33% of farm cash receipts for crops.
- Nearly 50% of the U.S. is considered farmland with fruit and vegetable farms accounting for 14 million acres.
- The 2014 Farm Bill provided a total of $3 billion investments in the specialty crop industry.
- A recent study found that for every $1 invested in MAP, there was a return of $238.30 in export gains.
Farm Bill Action
- December 20, 2018 | United Fresh Applauds Signing of Farm Bill
- June 11, 2018 | Specialty Crops Industry Applauds Senate Farm Bill Approach
- May 8, 2018 | Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Members Visit Capitol Hill, Urge Congress to Fund Key Farm Bill Programs
- April 18, 2018 | Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Statement on U.S. House Agriculture Committee Passage of Farm Bill
- April 17, 2018 | Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Announces Farm Bill Priorities
- July 8, 2015 | Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Statement on Pingree AGI Amendment
- May 12, 2015 | Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Letter to USDA Regarding New Mandate for Conservation Compliance
- February 23, 2015 | Letter to House and Senate Budget Committee Leadership Requesting No Additional Cuts
- January 28, 2014 | United Fresh Statement on Farm Bill
Important Farm Bill Programs:
- Crop Insurance
- DoD Fresh Program
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program
- Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Grants (FINI)
- Market Access Program
- Plant Pest and Disease Program
- Specialty Crop Block Grants
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops
- Tree Assistance Program
- Value-Added Producer Grant Program
Application Process for Specialty Crop Research Funds:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that over $48 million in funding has been made available through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). This program seeks to address challenges in areas such as production, distribution and processing, as well as consumer demand and markets. The focus areas of the program are research in plant breeding, pest management, production efficiency, new innovations and technology and food safety in production and processing. The funding for projects for 2017 is subject to passage of federal appropriations or a continuing resolution for Fiscal Year 2017.
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Recommendations:
- July 19, 2017 | Sarah Frey, CEO of Frey Farms, LLC, Testimony on Agricultural Guestworker Programs and the Needs of American Agriculture
- July 12, 2017 | Gary Wishnatzki, Owner and CEO of Wish Farms, testimony on Technology and Innovation for Specialty Crops in the next Farm Bill
- March 9, 2017 | Charles Wingard, Director of Field Operations for Walter p. Rawl & Sons, Inc., Testimony on Specialty Crops in the Next Farm Bill
- March 9, 2017 | James Field, Director of Business Development for Frey Farms, LLC, Testimony on Specialty Crops in the Next Farm Bill
- April 27, 2016 | Maureen Torrey, Torrey Farms Inc., Testimony Before the House Committee on Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research
USDA Information and Other Resources:
To learn more about the Farm Bill please contact Robert Guenther, Senior Vice President, Public Policy.