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
Biocontrols 2015 Conference
CitrusGrowers Go In-Depth At Biocontrols 2015 Conference & Tradeshow
March 9, 2015
The first-of-its-kind event brought growers, researchers, regulators, and suppliers together for a two-day discussion on the latest biocontrols tools and technologies. Read More
Crop ProtectionAt Paramount Farming, Mating Disruption Pays Off
February 10, 2015
To say Brad Higbee is an expert in mating disruption, the use of pheromones to confuse target pests and reduce Read More
Crop ProtectionGrower Experienced In Biocontrols Says: Be Patient
February 4, 2015
The use of biocontrols in all aspects of agriculture is becoming more widespread. But incorporating biocontrols in a vegetable farming Read More
Washington Capitol building
Food SafetyBill To Halt Patchwork Of State GMO Labeling Laws
March 31, 2015
Reintroduced bill includes a new provision allowing for labeling products as GMO-free via USDA-certification process. Read More
BerriesSouthern Strawberry, Peach Growers Concerned About Cold Snap
March 31, 2015
Plastic coverings, sprinklers used to keep crops warm with consecutive nights of low temperatures. Read More
Food SafetyFDA Holding Public Meeting On FSMA Implementation Strategy
March 31, 2015
Forum to provide opportunity to discuss planning efforts for the next phase of Food Safety Modernization Act implementation. Read More
PotatoesNew Dual-Purpose Potato Variety Released
March 31, 2015
The russet-skinned variety from the University of Maine and the Maine Potato Board boasts high yields. Read More
CitrusMake Every Day Ag Day
March 31, 2015
Another National Ag Day came and went on March 18. Did you do anything to promote it this year? Even Read More
VegetablesSweet Potato Options For Midwest Growers
March 31, 2015
In the U.S., commercial production of sweet potatoes is mainly in the southern states, particularly North Carolina and Louisiana. The Read More
Farm ManagementLocation Is King When Marketing
March 31, 2015
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School marketing professor David Bell was being interviewed on my local NPR station about his recently Read More
HarvestingOptimize Your Asparagus Harvest
March 30, 2015
It is an exciting time of the year when asparagus spears start poking their heads out of the ground. Careful Read More
Apples & PearsPink Lady Apple Production Continues To Grow
March 30, 2015
Total production is up nearly 50% over 2009, and is expected to increase 33% in the next three years. Read More
Food SafetyHow To Manage Food Safety Risks
March 30, 2015
You need to understand produce safety issues and what they mean to your farm. Read More
The Latest
Washington Capitol building
Food SafetyBill To Halt Patchwork Of State GMO Labeling Laws
March 31, 2015
Reintroduced bill includes a new provision allowing for labeling products as GMO-free via USDA-certification process. Read More
BerriesSouthern Strawberry, Peach Growers Concerned About Cold…
March 31, 2015
Plastic coverings, sprinklers used to keep crops warm with consecutive nights of low temperatures. Read More
Food SafetyFDA Holding Public Meeting On FSMA Implementation Strat…
March 31, 2015
Forum to provide opportunity to discuss planning efforts for the next phase of Food Safety Modernization Act implementation. Read More
PotatoesNew Dual-Purpose Potato Variety Released
March 31, 2015
The russet-skinned variety from the University of Maine and the Maine Potato Board boasts high yields. Read More
CitrusMake Every Day Ag Day
March 31, 2015
Another National Ag Day came and went on March 18. Did you do anything to promote it this year? Even Read More
VegetablesSweet Potato Options For Midwest Growers
March 31, 2015
In the U.S., commercial production of sweet potatoes is mainly in the southern states, particularly North Carolina and Louisiana. The Read More
Farm ManagementLocation Is King When Marketing
March 31, 2015
University of Pennsylvania Wharton School marketing professor David Bell was being interviewed on my local NPR station about his recently Read More
HarvestingOptimize Your Asparagus Harvest
March 30, 2015
It is an exciting time of the year when asparagus spears start poking their heads out of the ground. Careful Read More
Apples & PearsPink Lady Apple Production Continues To Grow
March 30, 2015
Total production is up nearly 50% over 2009, and is expected to increase 33% in the next three years. Read More
Food SafetyHow To Manage Food Safety Risks
March 30, 2015
You need to understand produce safety issues and what they mean to your farm. Read More
Laboratory beakers
CitrusGrowing Demand For Magnesium Nitrate Spurs TradeMark Ni…
March 30, 2015
Via enhancements made to its manufacturing plant, Florida company is able to provide more of its product to various fertilizer distributors and retailers throughout the country. Read More
Apples & PearsHow Will We Sell All These Apples? [Opinion]
March 30, 2015
Apple production is reaching heights that would have been unthinkable two or three decades ago. That's great news for growers — if we can sell them all profitably, Read More
blue orchard bee
Integrated Pest ManagementBlue Orchard Bee Shows Promise As An Alternative Pollin…
March 30, 2015
The native bee Osmia lignaria could soon be a valuable piece of the pollinator mix, especially for smaller almond growers. Read More
Richard Jones
Farm ManagementDon’t Burn Out This Spring
March 30, 2015
Finding ways to limit stress will benefit both you and your business. Read More
Apples & PearsSounding Off On GMOs: The Arctic Apple Decision
March 27, 2015
Industry leaders share their feelings on the recently approved genetically modified apples. Read More
BerriesBuilding A Better Black Raspberry
March 27, 2015
Studies focusing on consumer preference, aphid resistance, heat tolerance, and genetics aim to capitalize on an expanding market. Read More
Insect & Disease UpdateMore California Citrus Placed Under Psyllid Quarantine
March 27, 2015
Asian citrus psyllid is found in Madera County – the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
FruitsIncrease Your Knowledge By Using Tree Fruit Resources
March 27, 2015
Get educated with great resources in the tree fruit industry available at your fingertips. Read More