How the farm bill helps horticulture

February 6, 2014 -  By

The U.S. Senate voted on Feb. 4 to pass the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the farm bill, by a vote of 68-32. This follows prior approval by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill now heads to President Obama to sign, which he is expected to do Friday.

AmericanHort outlined a few ways the 900-page farm bill, which contains more than $16 billion in cuts, will help the horticulture industry:

1. Increased funding

The programs of greatest importance to the horticulture industry have all received substantial increases, totaling more than $1.1 billion over the next five years, a 75 percent increase, AmericanHort reported. These programs focus on specialty crop research needs, environmental management and prevention and response to new pest and plant disease challenges.

In the past few years, such funds have been essential to the industry’s response to emerging threats like boxwood blight, impatiens downy mildew and Phytopthora ramorum/sudden oak death. These funds will likely be the key to researching new challenges, such as rose rosette disease.

2. Specialty Crop Block Grant flexibility

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which includes nursery crops, will for the first time be available for multistate coordinated projects, expanding the opportunities for state and regional industry associations to work together on marketing efforts and other needs.

“Promotional campaigns like Plant Something help to unite and strengthen all aspects of our industry, including breeding and growing, distribution, garden retail and landscape services,” said AmericanHort senior vice president Craig Regelbrugge. “Research assists our producers in delivering high-quality products to our retailers and marketing programs help consumers better understand the important economic and environmental benefits our plants and services mean to them and their communities.”

3. National Clean Plant Network fixes

The National Clean Plant Network (NCPN) program is strengthened with both funding and technical fixes AmericanHort worked to secure, the association reported. NCPN has become a cornerstone element of industry efforts to import clean plant material for trialing and development by our fruit tree and nut tree growers,” said AmericanHort’s regulatory and legislative director Joe Bischoff. These growers have significant regulatory and pest management challenges, from viruses in particular, and the clean plant centers at Washington State University at Prosser, University of California at Davis, and Clemson University, are vital to delivering new varieties and cultivars to help this segment of our industry thrive. “The new language significantly advances what NCPN will be capable of and improves its outlook for long-term stability,” added Bischoff.

LM Staff

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1 Comment on "How the farm bill helps horticulture"

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  1. Rich Angelo says:

    Here is another example of corporate welfare, right in our own back yard.