Specialty Crops: Title I (Commodities), Title III (Trade), Title IV (Nutrition), Title VII (Research, Extension, and Related Matters), Title X (Horticulture), Title XI (Crop Insurance), and Title XII (Miscellaneous)
Errata: On February 25, 2019, the Specialty Crops page was revised to add a link to a newly posted Farm Bill page and to remove a reference to 2014 Act funding levels for the Local Agriculture Market Program’s (LAMP) component programs.
Provides for incentives for marketing and promotion of horticulture crops, data and information collection, plant pest and disease management, food safety education, and the purchase of fruits and vegetables for distribution to school feeding programs.
- Reauthorizes Specialty Crop Block Grants (SCBG) (Title X) and extends funding levels through fiscal 2023; extends access to multistate projects by organizations in nonparticipating States; and directs USDA and the State departments of agriculture, in consultation with stakeholders, to develop performance measures for a periodic evaluation of the program.
- Combines the purposes of the Farmers’ Market and Local Food Promotion Program with the Value Added Producer Grant Program under the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) (Title X), with $50 million in annual mandatory funding and authorized appropriations of an additional $20 million annually; maintains core functions of each program while enhancing coordination between USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service and Rural Business-Cooperative Service (the Local and Regional Foods topic page contains additional information).
- Expands the scope of the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) (Title VII) to include threats to pollinators, emerging and invasive species, systems to improve and extend storage life, and other operational improvements, and reauthorizes $100 million annually (equal to the previous bill’s level).
- Reauthorizes the Purchase of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Distribution to Schools and Service Institutions (Title IV) and extends funding levels through 2023.
- Requires an increased cost reimbursement for the Tree Assistance Program (TAP) (Title I) of 75 percent for beginning farmers, ranchers, and veterans, compared to 65 percent for replanting and 50 percent for rehabilitation for all others.
- Expands the Citrus Disease Subcommittee of the Specialty Crops Committee (Title VII) from 9 to 11 members, 5 of whom will represent Arizona or California.
- Reauthorizes the Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (Title XII), which is supported by the Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund, with $25 million in annual mandatory funding from 2019 through 2023 (equal to the previous bill’s level).
- Consolidates the Market Access, the Foreign Market Development, the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops, and the Emerging Markets programs into the Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation Program (Title III) with a total of $255 million in annual mandatory funding (up from $253.5 million in mandatory funding in the previous bill); preserves the unique functions of each program. These programs work to expand domestic production in international markets through sanitary/phytosanitary (SPS) and other technical assistance.
- Extends funding through fiscal 2023 for initiatives on specialty crops market data, at $9 million, and food safety education, at $1 million (Title X).
New Programs and Provisions
Produce Prescription Program (Title IV)—Aims to improve dietary health through increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, with funding not to exceed 10 percent of the entire Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program, previously known as the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program.
Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agriculture Production Research, Education, and Extension Initiative (Title VII)—Authorizes $10 million in mandatory annual funding for awarding of competitive grants, with priority given to the cooperation of multiple entities, or States or regions with a high concentration of or significant interest in urban farms, rooftop farms, and indoor production facilities; mandates a census of these operations.
Mechanization and automation for specialty crops (Title VII)—Mandates a review of programs and the development and implementation of a strategy to accelerate the development and use of automation and mechanization in the production or processing of specialty crops.
Addition of specialty crops and other value-added crops (Title XI) to National Crop Insurance programs—Requires the Federal Crop Insurance Coordinator to designate a specialty crop coordinator in each regional field office, as well as the use of noninsured crop disaster program data to support expanding Federal Crop Insurance to additional crops and, for existing insurable crops, to additional counties.
Study on Methyl Bromide Use in Response to an Emergency Event (Title X)— Requires a risk-benefit analysis on appropriate requirements and criteria for when methyl bromide use is required and when to authorize its use; completion within 2 years of the 2018 Act’s enactment.
Repealed Programs and Provisions
Cranberry Acreage Reserve Program (Title II), which was intended to purchase permanent wetland easements on and around cranberry-producing land.
- Building on the 2014 Farm Act, the 2018 Act continues to make research a cornerstone of programs for specialty crops. The SCRI and SCBG facilitate partnerships between industry and public research in enhancing and promoting the competitiveness of the horticulture sector. Emphasizing regional collaborations in the block grant program, and including access to multistate projects by organizations in nonparticipating States, will promote efficiencies in addressing issues such as food safety, plant pests and disease, and crop-specific projects that cross State lines. Reauthorized funding established for SCRI will avoid research disruptions.
- Expanded nutrition programs for schools support the role of fruits and vegetables in improved nutrition. Selected States will be allowed to use multiple suppliers and geographic preference in the procurement of fresh fruit and vegetables for school feeding programs. Criteria for selecting State participants include representation of different regions, quantity and variety of local fruit and vegetable growers, commitment to farm-to-school programs, and geographical locations.
- New studies in urban, indoor, and other emerging agriculture production as well as mechanization and automation demonstrate a commitment to help specialty crop producers across growing methods and geographical regions adapt to the constantly changing agricultural landscape and increasingly competitive marketplace.
- With growing demand for local food and value-added production, the consolidation of the Farmers' Market and Local Food Promotion Program and the Value Added Producer Grant Program will help streamline administrative requirements, increase coordination between USDA and eligible producers, facilitate linkages between independent producers with businesses or cooperatives that market value-added products, build regional partnerships to encourage a multi-stakeholder approach to local food system development, and provide education, outreach, and application assistance duties, which are particularly critical for developing local and regional food systems in low-income and underserved communities.
- Increasing global competitiveness is critical to U.S. specialty crops. While the U.S. market is generally the primary market for domestically grown fruit and vegetables, some commodities are increasingly reliant on global markets for sales. The consolidation of trade promotion and technical assistance programs under one program, renamed the Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation Program, will foster closer coordination of authorized activities aimed at broadening international market opportunities and overcoming trade barriers for U.S. agricultural products, particularly as these relate to SPS and other nontariff barriers to trade, which are uniquely challenging for specialty crops.