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

All Vegetables Stories >All Fruits Stories >All Nuts Stories >All Citrus Stories >

The Latest

CitrusUF Names Interim Director For Citrus Research And Educa…
September 30, 2014
Michael Rogers has been a central figure in Florida’s battle to survive greening. Read More
BerriesPractice Persistence When Battling Botrytis In Blueberr…
September 30, 2014
Cognizance of resistance is key to managing formidable fungus. Read More
CitrusFarming Is Quite The Scary Prospect For Some [Opinion]
September 30, 2014
Florida Grower managing editor Paul Rusnak says economic realities might frighten off future leaders from noble professions. Read More
FruitsNew Suppress Herbicide Gets Green Light From EPA
September 30, 2014
Approval gives organic growers new weed management tool. Read More
BerriesNew Fill-By-Weight Clamshell Filler For Blueberries
September 30, 2014
Lakewood Process Machinery's equipment offers a simplified user interface, minimized drop heights, a new dribble-gate system designed for an increased level of accuracy. Read More
Stone FruitLarge Cherry Crop Expected In Washington
September 30, 2014
Approximately 23.5 million boxes of cherries were sold during season. Read More
LaborWestern Growers President Speaks Out About Passage Of C…
September 29, 2014
California Governor Jerry Brown recently vetoed a Senate Bill 25 and approved Assembly Bill 1897. Read More
BerriesDrought Could Impact Spring California Strawberry Crop
September 29, 2014
Ventura County expects reduction of acres planted as surface water availability takes a hit. Read More
Apples & PearsUnusual Weather Slows Michigan Apple Maturity
September 29, 2014
Fruit may have lower Brix levels, soluble solids lower than normal. Read More
BerriesFlorida Blueberry Growers Ready To Rise To The Occasion…
September 29, 2014
Florida Blueberry Growers Association president Dudley Calfee provides state of the industry insight. Read More
CitrusFlorida Announces Its 2014 Woman Of The Year In Agricul…
September 29, 2014
Longtime award recognizes women who have made outstanding contributions to the state’s farming sector. Read More
FruitsNational Security May Depend On A Healthy Diet [Opinion…
September 29, 2014
Your bottom line as well as the future of our country will depend on promoting healthy eating to the next generation. Read More
CitrusFlorida Produce Industry Embracing Progress, Confrontin…
September 29, 2014
Production pressures and politics hot topics at FFVA’s 71st Annual Convention. Read More
BerriesDon’t Let Your Guard Slip When Taking On Thrips
September 27, 2014
Tiny insect pests can present big problems for blueberry growers. Read More
CitrusFlorida Farmers Finding Ways To Cultivate An Environmen…
September 26, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam salutes producers putting their best management practices forward. Read More
CitrusGrowers Should Partner Wisely To Stay Afloat Amid WOTUS…
September 26, 2014
According to Florida Grower editor Frank Giles, the Clean Water Act is muddying waters for farmers. Read More
GrapesCalifornia Winegrape Industry Leaders Adapt To Drought
September 26, 2014
State’s players stand in good stead despite numerous challenges, surveys show. Read More
GrapesGet Ready For Unified Symposium
September 26, 2014
Registration and housing slated for industry’s biggest event to open Oct. 28, and the hotel rooms go fast. Read More