Industry research into pest and disease management, and increasingly, marketing and other research opportunities are available to ornamental growers through the Farm Bill. The 2012 version — which continues to support valuable programs like these — has just passed through the Senate and now makes its way to the House. The House Agriculture Committee should begin to evaluate its version of the bill starting July 11.
In 2008, Congress passed a version of the Farm Bill that included a title for specialty crops, says Craig Regelbrugge, vice president of government relations for the American Nursery & Landscape Association.
“The specialty crop industries (also including fruits and vegetables) represent half the value of crop agriculture, and neither receive, nor generally want, the kinds of subsidies and direct payments that have given the Farm Bill a bad name among many fiscal conservatives,” Regelbrugge says.
The Farm Bill supports:
– Funding for pest and disease resistance and research programs, which is allocated by APHIS and totals about $50 million per year. “The funding supports offshore pest threat identification, enhanced pest survey and monitoring, technology development for detection and eradication, development of “systems approaches” for pest prevention, and similar efforts,” Regelbrugge says.
– Funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which supports marketing, promotion and other research opportunities.
– Funding for the Specialty Crop Research Inititiative, which also supports research.
“Our industry can be proud that more dollars are being dedicated toward research, specialty crop block grants and other priorities such as pest and disease management programs that help U.S. nursery and greenhouse growers to stay competitive,” says Jeff Stone, executive director of the Oregon Association Of Nurseries. “All of these requests received significant bipartisan support because they make sense and provide solutions.”
How You Can Support The Farm Bill
SAF and ANLA both encourage industry members to reach out to their representatives to show support of the Farm Bill through prewritten messages on their sites, which you can find here on the SAF site and here on the ANLA site.
“Constituent opinions absolutely make a difference, and we greatly appreciate every single email and phone call,” says SAF’s Lin Schmale.