On May 25, 83 members of Congress representing key specialty crop interests sent a message to House agriculture leadership about the need to defend specialty crop programs and to swiftly pass the farm bill. The letter, addressed to Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas, committee chairman, and Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, ranking member, requests “full and fair consideration to the research, pest management and trade assistance programs” that are vital to the specialty crop industry.
“This letter shows the leadership of the House of Representatives that there is strong support for the specialty crop industry and that there is a strong desire to pass the farm bill before it reaches its September 30 expiration date,” said Robert Guenther, secretary of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. “The signatories recognize the value of specialty crops in their districts and for the entire country, and we appreciate their willingness to work towards a stronger specialty crop industry.”
The letter draws attention to the critical contribution that specialty crops make to the $44 billion agriculture trade surplus and the resources that the industry needs to continue to provide safe, healthy product to an increasingly health-conscious consumer base. These resources include pest management programs such as the Plant Pest and Disease Management, the Disaster Prevention Program and the National Clean Plant Network. The letter highlights much-needed research programs such as the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the Agriculture Research Service, as well as key industry development programs such as the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Acknowledging the need to maintain trade opportunities for specialty crop providers, the letter also voices the members’ support for trade assistance programs such as the Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops.
“We applaud these members of Congress for making sure that the leadership of the House knows how important the specialty crop industry is to their districts and around the country and for continuing to be fresh produce industry champions. The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance looks forward to working with them as the House moves toward passage of the 2012 farm bill,” said Guenther.
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