Opinion: Growers Can Stop To Give Thanks

This is the traditional time of year for us to give thanks. Mostly for friends and family, of course, but those involved in fruit growing can also be thankful for being part of such a special industry. It’s special in a lot of ways.

In how many lines of work, for example, do you actually have a great reason to spend your time not only outdoors, but out in orchards? And how many industries do you know that are so family-oriented?

But perhaps the most special thing about it in these days of economic upheaval is that fruit growers actually produce something tangible. And it’s not only tangible, it’s healthful, another tremendous advantage what with the worrisome projections of childhood obesity. We’ve got to get those kids munching on nature’s candy. That’s an issue for another day, however.

It’s interesting that fruit be termed a specialty crop when we now know it should be a mainstay of the diet. Not only that, but sales of fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts account for almost one-third of all crop cash receipts in the U.S.

That makes the passage of the most recent Farm Bill, the first to contain a separate title for issues related to specialty crops, so remarkable. The 2008 bill dedicated almost $3 billion in funding over five years to areas that are important to fruit growers of all stripes: nutrition, farmers’ markets, trade, and plant pest and disease management.

As the federal government moves at glacial speed, we are just feeling the impacts of all this new spending. From providing more money for poverty-stricken mothers to buy fruits and vegetables for their kids, to multi-pronged battle plans to defend our crops from dangerous pests, growers are seeing real impact. And for that we should be thankful.

Be Ever Vigilant

Not that we don’t need to keep our eyes open. I was reminded of that in late October when the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture held a hearing to review the implementation of the Farm Bill. Specifically, Dennis Cardoza of Modesto, CA, called the hearing to examine the implementation of the bill regarding fruits and vegetables. “It is clear that USDA has much more work to do to fully implement Congress’ direction in the Farm Bill,” he said, “and I intend to hold additional hearings into these issues.”

Another subcommittee member, Jean Schmidt of Ohio, agreed. “Specialty crop and organic producers across the nation have the opportunity to benefit from the Farm Bill, but only if the integrity of the programs is protected,” she said. “It is crucial that we all do our part by ensuring these programs are implemented in a timely and appropriate manner.”

I’m not sure that most fruit growers are aware of the many resources in the Farm Bill, which provides:
• $33 million to expand opportunities for grower-to-consumer marketing
• $22 million for USDA’s organic cost-share program
• $10 million annually for research into the beekeepers’ bane of Colony Collapse Disorder
• $20 million to establish and operate the National Clean Plant Network
And the biggies:
• $377 million over 10 years for pest and disease detection and control
• $466 million over 10 years to expand the specialty crop block grant program to support projects in research, production, marketing, education, and food safety.

Growers today should be thankful they are among the first to benefit from such programs. But at the same time, as Schmidt noted, “it is crucial we all do our part” in ensuring their implementation. You’ll thank yourself later.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
BerriesRemoving Leftover Roots May Improve New Raspberry Crop’s Health
August 30, 2015
Soilborne pests and pathogens can be reduced by taking out last year’s red raspberry roots and crowns. Read More
CitrusMany HLB Finds In California
August 30, 2015
Scientists always said it was just a matter of time, but having an incurable disease like Huanglongbing infect the state’s citrus is jarring. Read More
NutsGrowers Claim Pistachio Trees Diseased – Nursery Maintains Problem Is A Genetic disorder
August 30, 2015
Whatever the cause, pistachio trees are suffering from Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome, and tens of thousands of acres in California and Arizona will have to be replanted. Read More
CitrusFederal Judge Blocks Clean Water Rule
August 28, 2015
  According to RISE (Responsible Industry For A Sound Environment), a federal judge in North Dakota has blocked implementation of Read More
PotatoesUSDA Deregulates Late Blight-Resistant Genetically Engineered Potato
August 28, 2015
Agency cites no significant impact of special spud developed by J.R. Simplot. Read More
Food SafetyLawmakers Urge FDA To Help Small Farms With FSMA Compliance
August 28, 2015
Letter from members of Congress asks FDA to expedite assistance and training for small producers. Read More
FruitsSustainable Options For Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Control
August 28, 2015
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), unfortunately, is here to stay. Found in the U.S. in the late 1990s, this Read More
FruitsA Breakthrough In Biotechnology And The Future Of The Fruit Industry
August 28, 2015
Researchers from California and Sweden have recently been honored for a discovery that could have big implications for the fruit Read More
FruitsWhat Makes A Flavorful Fruit?
August 28, 2015
These days, U.S. consumers are increasingly demanding good-tasting fruit and the industry is responding. However, there remains room for improvement Read More
FruitsMedfly Find Prompts Quarantine In Portion Of San Diego County
August 28, 2015
A portion of San Diego County has been placed under quarantine for the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) following the detection Read More
The Latest
BerriesRemoving Leftover Roots May Improve New Raspberry Crop’…
August 30, 2015
Soilborne pests and pathogens can be reduced by taking out last year’s red raspberry roots and crowns. Read More
CitrusMany HLB Finds In California
August 30, 2015
Scientists always said it was just a matter of time, but having an incurable disease like Huanglongbing infect the state’s citrus is jarring. Read More
NutsGrowers Claim Pistachio Trees Diseased – Nursery …
August 30, 2015
Whatever the cause, pistachio trees are suffering from Pistachio Bushy Top Syndrome, and tens of thousands of acres in California and Arizona will have to be replanted. Read More
CitrusFederal Judge Blocks Clean Water Rule
August 28, 2015
  According to RISE (Responsible Industry For A Sound Environment), a federal judge in North Dakota has blocked implementation of Read More
PotatoesUSDA Deregulates Late Blight-Resistant Genetically Engi…
August 28, 2015
Agency cites no significant impact of special spud developed by J.R. Simplot. Read More
Food SafetyLawmakers Urge FDA To Help Small Farms With FSMA Compli…
August 28, 2015
Letter from members of Congress asks FDA to expedite assistance and training for small producers. Read More
FruitsSustainable Options For Brown Marmorated Stink Bug Cont…
August 28, 2015
The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB), unfortunately, is here to stay. Found in the U.S. in the late 1990s, this Read More
FruitsA Breakthrough In Biotechnology And The Future Of The F…
August 28, 2015
Researchers from California and Sweden have recently been honored for a discovery that could have big implications for the fruit Read More
FruitsWhat Makes A Flavorful Fruit?
August 28, 2015
These days, U.S. consumers are increasingly demanding good-tasting fruit and the industry is responding. However, there remains room for improvement Read More
FruitsMedfly Find Prompts Quarantine In Portion Of San Diego …
August 28, 2015
A portion of San Diego County has been placed under quarantine for the Mediterranean fruit fly (medfly) following the detection Read More
Golden Rice
CitrusAnti-GMO-Fueled Threats Force Reallocation Of Biotech E…
August 27, 2015
University of Florida officials say plans are to re-allocate a donation intended to improve the public’s understanding of science after Read More
ProductionNew Vegetable Grafting Technique Reduces Labor
August 27, 2015
Researchers patent a process to eliminate rootstock with the goal of making grafting more affordable in the U.S. Read More
money
CitrusMonsanto Drops Current Bid For Syngenta Acquisition
August 27, 2015
Even with a revised proposal that sweetened the pot to $46.2 billion, financial expectations still fall flat. Read More
Jim McFerson
Apples & PearsNew Director At Washington Fruit Research Center Has Fa…
August 27, 2015
Jim McFerson, former manager at the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, takes over at the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center. Read More
Apples & PearsIt’s Been A Tough Year For Pacific Northwest Grow…
August 27, 2015
So far, 2015 is not treating the Pacific Northwest tree fruit industry all that well. We knew the record apple Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateCalifornia’s Citrus Growers Face More Challenges Than H…
August 27, 2015
As a kid growing up we all remember the arrival of Barnum & Bailey’s circus. The ads, the posters, the Read More
Leafy VegetablesThe Latest Vegetable Varieties For Covered Production
August 27, 2015
Check out cucumber, pepper and tomato offerings available from DeRuiter, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Rijk Zwaan, and Syngenta. The greenhouse varieties are Read More
Leafy VegetablesIceberg Lettuce Prices Up In California’s Abnormal Weat…
August 26, 2015
Price may be up but the heat and humidity are diminishing quality. Read More