Three Legislative Recommendations from Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Legislative, Specialty Crops

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) has endorsed three pieces of legislation that would support the groups 2023 Farm Bill priorities. SCFBA is comprised of more than 200 individual organizations representing fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, nursery plants, and other products. Some of the key priorities for the SCFBA have been related to research and nutrition. One of the pieces of legislation the organization is supporting is the Specialty Crop Research Act of 2023, introduced by U.S. Representative Elissa Slotkin.

Farm Bill Alliance

Specifically, the Specialty Crop Research Act seeks to increase funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and IR-4 Project. The two federal programs support research to increase the resiliency of specialty crops. The bill would increase funding for the SCRI by $50 million annually and the IR-4 Project by $25 million. Another piece of legislation being supported by SCFBA is a bill from Congressmen Rick Crawford and Dan Kildee to enhance the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP).

Established in the 2014 Farm Bill, GusNIP provides grants to nonprofit organizations and government agencies that provide incentives to low-income consumers to increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables. The GusNIP Expansion Act of 2023 seeks to reduce the federal match for grants from 50 percent to 20 percent. Grants for fruit and vegetable incentive projects that work in a variety of retail settings would also be prioritized under the bill. The Expanding Agricultural Exports Act is also being supported by the SCFBA.

Introduced by U.S. Senators Angus King, Joni Ernst, Tina Smith, and Representative Dan Newhouse, the legislation supports improving marketing efforts and overseas sales for U.S. agricultural products. The legislation would double the funding levels for the Market Access Program to $400 million and the Foreign Market Development Program to $69 million. Authors of the bill note that the funding increases would result in an additional $7.4 billion in agricultural exports.

“The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance has long advocated for investments in the competitiveness and sustainability of the U.S. specialty crop industry to produce a strong return for both farmers and all Americans — it’s foundational to everything we do,” SCFBA co-chairs said in a joint statement. “That’s why we are grateful for those in the U.S. Senate and House who continue to champion policy ideas that will improve access to fruits and vegetables in federal nutrition programs and enhance the long-term competitiveness of the industry.”

Brian German
Ag News Director / AgNet West