A recent announcement from USDA brings some good news for ornamental growers.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has changed the name of its Fruit and Vegetable Program to the Specialty Crops Program. Because of the expansion of products covered, the program name has been changed to be more inclusive.
For example, although most of the products that the divisions of AMS work with on a daily basis are fresh and processed fruits and vegetables, the Market News Division issues daily reports on cut flower prices. Also, the Promotion and Economics Division oversees research and promotion programs for honey, peanuts, paper and paper packaging, softwood lumber, popcorn, and Christmas trees, along with traditional fruits and vegetables such as mangoes and potatoes. Similarly, the Marketing Order and Agreement Division oversees marketing orders for almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios and spearmint oil, and is currently working with the pecan industry as they explore a possible new marketing order.
The change brings the program into line with a Congressional definition: “The term ‘specialty crop’ means fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops (including floriculture).”