BackgroundAlthough specialty crops represent nearly 50 percent of total farm gate value of all plant agricultural products grown in the United States, for many years, the industry was on the outside looking in during farm bill discussions.
That all changed during the 2008 Farm Bill process, when NPC and other members of the industry came together to form the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA). Representing the majority of U.S. specialty crop producers, SCFBA fought for policy tools to strengthen the long-term competitiveness of our producers. Due to the coalition’s efforts, the 2008 Farm Bill wrote a new chapter of American farm policy, making it – for the first time – truly comprehensive and inclusive.
The 2014 Farm Bill continued the investment in specialty crops and enhanced the strength of the industry by adopting many SCFBA recommendations which focused on improving existing programs and funding levels instead of promoting new federal programs.
Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI)
The SCFBA worked successfully with our congressional allies to increase funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI). Since 2008, more than $14 million in SCRI grants have been directed to critical potato-related research projects like Potato Virus Y, Zebra Chip and Acrylamide. As a result of these research projects, the potato industry has taken positive steps toward solving disease issues, improving product quality, and meeting consumer expectations.
State Block Grants
State block grants represent another farm bill success for specialty crop growers as they provide financial resources to state and locally identified projects that will improve the overall competitiveness and efficiency of the industry. Specialty crop production is uniquely local, and the needs of potato growers vary from state to state and region to region. State block grants allow projects to be driven by local grower input and focused on local grower need. This can range from addressing a particular local or regional production issue to developing regionally appropriate varieties that meet changing consumer tastes.