PDF _ RL32951 - Specialty Crop Issues in the 109th Congress
19-Aug-2005; Jean M. Rawson; 14 p.

Update: Nov 08, 2005

Abstract: The U.S. specialty crop sector is comprised of producers, handlers, processors, and retailers of fruit, vegetable, tree nut, and nursery crops. The major U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodity price and income support programs do not include specialty crops, but the industry benefits generally from USDA programs related to trade, conservation, credit, protection from pests and diseases, domestic food assistance programs, crop insurance and disaster payments, research, and other areas. Certain programs of the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Labor also affect the specialty crop sector.

The 108th Congress passed the first law intended to address selected issues of importance to the specialty crop industry as a whole (the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004, P.L. 108-465). It is widely expected that this act will serve as the basis of more comprehensive debate on policies affecting the sector when the House and Senate Agriculture Committees begin consideration of the omnibus farm bill that would take effect when the current farm act (P.L. 107-171) expires in 2007. Another bill that might serve a similar purpose has been introduced in the 109th Congress. The Specialty Crops and Value-Added Agriculture Promotion Act (S. 1556) would amend the 2004 Act to make some of its authorities permanent, and to address issues related to trade, the revenue insurance program, and marketing opportunities for specialty crops.

In the short term, before farm bill deliberations begin, the 109th Congress is addressing certain issues affecting specialty crops. These include appropriations for the programs authorized in P.L. 108-465 (H.R. 2744); planting flexibility proposals that could affect specialty crop supplies and prices (H.R. 2045/S. 1038; S. 194); upcoming implementation of a mandatory country-of-origin labeling program for fresh produce; guest worker program reform (S. 359/H.R. 884); and the potential effects that recent Supreme Court decisions could have on producer check-off programs that fund generic promotion campaigns for selected fruits and vegetables.

This report will be updated periodically to reflect congressional and USDA action concerning these issues. [read report]

Topics: Agriculture

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