Rep. Costa Leads Bipartisan Coalition in Calling for Farm Bill Support of Fruits, Vegetables, & Other Specialty Crops
Washington, D.C. – This week Valley Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) led a bipartisan coalition of 42 members of the House Specialty Crop Caucus in calling on House and Senate Agriculture Committee leadership to give specialty crops – such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts – equal treatment in ongoing Farm Bill Conference Committee negotiations.
“California produces more than half of America’s fresh fruits and vegetables, which are the staples of the healthy meals we all need,” said Rep. Costa, a longtime advocate for Central Valley agriculture. “Specialty crop producers face unique challenges that a strong Farm Bill must address so they can continue to put food on America’s dinner tables every night.”
The bipartisan coalition stated their priorities for supporting specialty crop producers in overcoming such challenges. These include programs which are critical for both California and Valley agriculture, such as:
- Plant pest and disease programs, which provided Fresno County with $1,641,751 in 2016-2017 to protect crops from pests and diseases
- The Specialty Crop Research Initiative, including the Emergency Citrus Disease Research & Development Trust Fund, which will be used in California to protect citrus from citrus greening disease
- Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops, which helps producers answer the ever-increasing technical requirements for international trade, most notably supporting almond, wine grape, and walnut producers in the Central Valley
- Specialty Crop Block Grants, which last year brought $22.6 million to California to fund 83 projects that expand markets for specialty crops, provide nutritional education for consumers, and many other benefits
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance – a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants, and other products – shared, “We applaud Congressmen Costa and Upton for leading this bipartisan letter to ensure that specialty crop industry priorities are included in the next Farm Bill. Thanks to their leadership, we are confident that Farm Bill conferees now further understand the importance of specialty crop programs, as well as the diversity of our industry that crosses all 50 states. The investments this new Farm Bill makes in areas such as research, trade, and nutrition are vital to specialty crops, and we look forward to continue working with them to get this legislation passed and signed into law.”
For the bipartisan coalition’s full message, click here.