Federal price and income support programs do not directly cover
fruit and tree nuts. Nonetheless, some outlays stem from a variety
of general, non-crop-specific programs, including the
- Federal production assistance programs, such as Federal crop
insurance, the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, and
western irrigation subsidies;
- Export programs, such as the Market Access Program (MAP), which
include several fruit and tree nuts;
- Federal food purchase programs, such as the School Lunch
Program, which also include fruit and tree nuts;
- Federal Marketing Orders; and
- Federally sanctioned national research and promotion program in
place for cultivated blueberries, Hass avocados, and mangoes.
Crop Insurance and
Commercial fruit and tree nut growers always face production or
yield risk, mostly associated with adverse weather, and Federal
assistance is provided through ad hoc (or emergency) Federal
disaster assistance and Federal crop insurance. USDA's Risk
Management Agency (RMA) provides crop
insurance policies for many crops, including a rising number of
fruit and tree nut crops. Federal crop insurance is obtained prior
to the growing season and provides an indemnity payment if the
farmer's actual yield falls below a predetermined guarantee. The
policies are acquired through private insurance companies. Although
crop insurance is not free to farmers, the Government subsidizes a
significant portion of the cost.
RMA also has pilot programs in select counties for newly
developed insurance programs. Most operate for 2 to 3 years before
converting to permanent status. Pilot programs currently in place
for fruit apply to California avocados, cherries, citrus fruit,
Florida fruit trees, Hawaii tropical fruit, and Hawaii tropical
USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers the
Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP)
. Fruit and tree nut growers who do
not purchase crop insurance or do not have established Federal crop
insurance programs for their crops are eligible for Federal
financial assistance under this program when natural disasters
cause low yields, loss of inventory, or inability to plant. FSA
also operates other disaster assistance programs--Emergency
Conservation, Disaster Debt Set-Aside, and Emergency Farm
Loans--designed to aid farmers who are affected by drought, flood,
freeze, tornadoes, and other natural calamities (for more
Ongoing Disaster Assistance Programs for
Agricultural Producers ).
Moreover, during years of extensive crop loss, producers of
insured crops (covered by a crop insurance plan or NAP) may be
eligible for the new Supplemental Agricultural Disaster Assistance,
which consists of five disaster assistance programs, including the
Orchard and Nursery Tree Assistance Program.
The Market Access Program (MAP), administered by
USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service, uses funds from USDA's
Commodity Credit Corporation to help U.S. producers, exporters,
private companies, and other trade organizations finance activities
such as consumer promotions, market research, technical assistance,
and trade servicing for agricultural products.
For fiscal year 2011, approximately $52 million of MAP funds
were directly allocated to the U.S. fruit and tree nuts industry,
about 27 percent of the $194.4-million program total. Additional
allocations made to other trade associations will also likely
benefit the fruit and tree nut industry.
Marketing orders, administered by the USDA's
Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), are designed to collectively
solve instability within fruit and vegetable markets. That goal is
accomplished by enforcing product quality standards, regulating the
flow of product to the market, standardizing packages and
containers, creating reserve pools for storable commodities, and
authorizing production and marketing research and advertising.
Industries participate voluntarily and agree to Federal oversight
over certain aspects of their operations.
Once established, a marketing order becomes binding on all
individuals or businesses serving as "handlers" in a geographic
area covered by the order. Imports may be directly affected by
these marketing orders. Under the Agricultural Marketing Agreement
Act of 1937, Section 8e, imports of commodities for which domestic
marketing orders are in effect must comply with the same or
comparable regulations on grade, size, quality, or maturity issued
in the marketing order.
For example, the only Federal marketing order in force for
avocados covers fruit produced in South Florida between June and
March. It authorizes standards for grade, size, quality, maturity,
and packing, as well as for the size, capacity, and weight of the
shipping containers. Minimum grade, size, and maturity standards
also are applied to imported avocados. See the AMS list of Federal Marketing Orders for the orders
currently in effect.
Federally sanctioned research and promotion programs are
self-help programs, requested and funded by the industry groups
that they serve. These programs aim to expand, maintain, and
develop markets for individual agricultural commodities in the
United States and abroad. The Secretary of Agriculture appoints
national program boards composed of producers, handlers, importers,
and processors (depending on which industry members pay assessments
to fund the programs), as well as public members. The boards
conduct promotion, market research, production research, and new
product development under AMS supervision. See the AMS Web pages on
cultivated blueberries, Hass avocados, mangoes and watermelons for more information on these
and Energy Act of 2008
For the first time in farm legislation history, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008
included a title concerning specific issues related to the U.S.
fruit and vegetable industry (Title X: Horticulture and Organic
Agriculture). Some of the new program provisions in the title
focus on the wellbeing of the fruit and vegetable industry.
Pest and Disease Management include a National Clean Plant
Network and a Pest and Disease Revolving Loan Fund. Another
program, the Food Safety Education Initiative, educates people
involved in the various produce industries and the general public
about sanitary handling practices and ways of reducing pathogens in
Nutrition Title of the 2008 Farm Act, there
are several provisions for fruit and vegetables, including purchase
for domestic feeding programs such as the National School Lunch
program and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, formerly a pilot
program, whose goal is to provide fruit and vegetables to
elementary schools where at least half the students receive free or
reduced-price school meals.
The Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004 established
block grants, subject to annual appropriations in fiscal years
2005-09, to help State departments of agriculture enhance the
competitiveness of U.S. specialty crops. The 2008 Farm Act
reauthorized and extended this Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through
fiscal year 2012.
The 2008 Farm Act also reauthorized the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC)
Program, first enacted into law by Section 3205 of the Farm
Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002. This program funds
projects that help U.S. exporters address sanitary, phytosanitary,
and technical barriers that prohibit or threaten exports of U.S.
specialty crops. Funding is made through USDA's Commodity Credit
Corporation. Eligible crops under this program include all U.S.
cultivated plants (and their products), excluding wheat, feed
grains, oilseeds, cotton, rice, peanuts, sugar, and tobacco.
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids
Act of 2010
On December 13, 2010, the President signed into law the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which, under
the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Bill, authorizes funding for
Federal school meal and child nutrition programs and improves
access to healthy food for low-income children. The bill
reauthorizes child nutrition programs for five years and includes
$4.5 billion in new funding for these programs over 10 years. One
of this legislation's many objectives is to increase federal
reimbursement on school lunches to meet updated nutritional
standards, an undertaking that will offer more opportunities for
children to increase their fruit and vegetable consumption.