When it comes to the priorities for this year’s farm bill, there are extra considerations to take into account for specialty crops and specialty crop producers.
It wasn’t until 2008 that specialty crops were specifically included in the Farm Bill with the introduction of the Horticulture Title. However, Jacqlyn Schneider, FGS Global partner for food and agriculture, and a former top aide to Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), explains specialty crops have had other ways of fitting into the bill.
“The specialty crop industry has always been a little unique since they don’t participate in traditional Title One programs. So, to touch on all portions of the Farm Bill is a little bit by design,” she said. “They’ve always been focused on tools to mitigate risk, to invest in conservation where they need technology, addressing issues related to labor, or research needs that go into things like mechanization.”
She said the industry also focuses on support for the purchase of fruits and vegetables, such as expanding incentive programs that maximize the dollars that can be spent on healthy foods.
The umbrella term “Specialty Crops” covers hundreds of crops, and Schneider says that makes things more difficult.
“I imagine their priorities are long because the industries are diverse and they don’t have a direct shot in the same way some other commodities do within the Title One programs,” she said. “So, I think you’ll see a good combination of efforts around some of those key areas. But, it might vary a bit depending on who you ask, which rises up to the top, the middle, and the bottom of those key areas.”
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