Subcommittee Examines Specialty Crops in 2008 Farm Bill

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Washington, D.C., Jul 30, 2009 | Angela Landers ((202) 226-1581) | comments

Today, the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Entrepreneurship and Trade, of the House Committee on Small Business, examined Title X of the Farm Bill and the ways it benefits farmers that produce specialty crops.   Witnesses from the Department of Agriculture, representatives of trade associations, and producers testified on the USDA programs aimed at assisting specialty crop producers.

Ranking Member of the Subcommittee Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) said, “Agriculture is the lrgest economic sector in my state and district and it is of vital importance to our overall national economy as well. Specialty crops face stiff international competition, and it is important that we support this industry to ensure the future of our nation’s agriculture and small farms.”

In today’s economy, farmers are looking for ways to expand their businesses. One of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture is the production, marketing, and sale of fruits, vegetables, and specialty crops.  However, in the past, these products have not had dedicated provisions in the Farm Bill to support their producers.

Title X of the Farm Bill was created to include specialty and organic crops.  The legislation plans for research, food safety and programs to fight pests and diseases and encourages investments to promote fruits and vegetables, including $466 million for a specialty crop block grant program.  At the hearing, Jim Anderson, Executive Director of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board in Jefferson City, Missouri said, “As an emerging and growing specialty crop industry that is populated by many small family farms, we were pleased to see that mandatory funding for specialty crop programs was included in the Farm Bill.”

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