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
Cosmis Crisp apples planting FEATURE
Fruits
September 27, 2016
Focusing On Phenomics In Specialty Crops
It’s not just the nature of your crops — the genomics — it’s also how they are nurtured. Read More
Bob Bender (center) accepts American Vegetable Grower's 2016 Grower Achievement Award from Lonny Smith of AgroLiquid, the award's sponsor, and American Vegetable  Grower editor Rosemary Gordon
Grower Achievement Award
September 27, 2016
Tasteful Selections Is The Recipient Of American Vegetable Grower’s 2016 Grower Achievement Award
The award was presented to Bob Bender of Tasteful Selections Sept. 13 at United Fresh's Washington Conference. Read More
Urban vegetable farm in rural Cuba
Fruits
September 27, 2016
Rodale Institute Launches An Organic Farming Association
A new national organization for organic growers is designed to provide advocacy, the latest research and education, and information-sharing among farmers. Read More
Marco Rubio tours a Central Florida citrus grove with industry dignitaries
Farm Management
September 27, 2016
Politicians May Be Taking Ag For Granted [Opinion]
Growers have become masters at ensuring a steady food supply, but warning, politicians: Ignore them at your peril. Read More
U.S. Capitol Building FEATURE
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Presidential Candidates Comment On Agricultural Issues
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on a number of topics of concern to growers. Read More
'Rave' is a cross between 'Honeycrisp' and an unreleased variety called ‘MonArk.' 'Rave' was bred by the University of Minnesota and will be grown and sold exclusively by Stemilt in the U.S. (Photo credit: Stemilt)
Apples & Pears
September 26, 2016
New Apple Variety Is One Stemilt Hopes Consumers Will ‘Rave’ About
University of Minnesota apple variety will be grown and packed exclusively by Stemilt. Read More
David Wiemann explains how the Scott Henry training system controls vigor with four canes instead of two. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)
Grapes
September 26, 2016
Where Site And Growing System Meet In The Vineyard
Vineyard manager uses growing systems to control vigor of winegrape varieties. Read More
A reddish “halo” surrounds the point of scale attachment on the fruit, under the skin.  (Photo credit: Art Agnello)
Fruits
September 26, 2016
San Jose Scale Is An Old Pest That Is A New Threat To Apple Growers
Growers see increase in infestations due to changes in chemical control programs. Read More
Florida Sugar Cane field
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Florida Sugarcane Industry Strengthening From Within
Pot sweetens with promotions for three executive staffers of the state’s Growers Cooperative. Read More
Closeup on a citrus blossom in Florida
Citrus Achievement Award
September 26, 2016
Hope Growing Around Bactericides As A Citrus Greening Solution
Citrus Achievement Award winner Marty McKenna is optimistic about new approach to staving off HLB. Read More
The Latest
Fruits
September 27, 2016
Focusing On Phenomics In Specialty Crops
It’s not just the nature of your crops — the genomics — it’s also how they are nurtured. Read More
Grower Achievement Award
September 27, 2016
Tasteful Selections Is The Recipient Of …
The award was presented to Bob Bender of Tasteful Selections Sept. 13 at United Fresh's Washington Conference. Read More
Fruits
September 27, 2016
Rodale Institute Launches An Organic Far…
A new national organization for organic growers is designed to provide advocacy, the latest research and education, and information-sharing among farmers. Read More
Farm Management
September 27, 2016
Politicians May Be Taking Ag For Granted…
Growers have become masters at ensuring a steady food supply, but warning, politicians: Ignore them at your peril. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Presidential Candidates Comment On Agric…
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump weigh in on a number of topics of concern to growers. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 26, 2016
New Apple Variety Is One Stemilt Hopes C…
University of Minnesota apple variety will be grown and packed exclusively by Stemilt. Read More
Grapes
September 26, 2016
Where Site And Growing System Meet In Th…
Vineyard manager uses growing systems to control vigor of winegrape varieties. Read More
Fruits
September 26, 2016
San Jose Scale Is An Old Pest That Is A …
Growers see increase in infestations due to changes in chemical control programs. Read More
Citrus
September 26, 2016
Florida Sugarcane Industry Strengthening…
Pot sweetens with promotions for three executive staffers of the state’s Growers Cooperative. Read More
Citrus Achievement Award
September 26, 2016
Hope Growing Around Bactericides As A Ci…
Citrus Achievement Award winner Marty McKenna is optimistic about new approach to staving off HLB. Read More
Cucurbits
September 25, 2016
10 Cantaloupe And Melon Varieties You Ne…
Browse this slideshow for more information on 10 cantaloupe and melon varieties you need to know about from the nation’s leading Read More
Farm Marketing
September 25, 2016
New York Governor Signs Additional Legis…
Bills allow farm wineries, breweries, and cideries to sell New York-made farm beverages by the glass. Read More
Farm Management
September 24, 2016
Water Woes Continue In Northeast
Hydrologist says this year’s conditions are bad but are part of a typical water cycle. Read More
Berries
September 24, 2016
Time Is Now For Florida Blueberry Grower…
Coming off a challenging season, industry players must continue to adapt to curveballs thrown by Mother Nature and market forces. Read More
Potatoes
September 24, 2016
USDA To Extend Deregulation To Two Lines…
Developed by J.R. Simplot, the potatoes are resistant to late blight, reduced black spot bruising, and lowered reducing sugars. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 23, 2016
USDA Approves Nonregulated Status For ‘A…
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announces deregulation of third non-browning apple released from Canadian company. Read More
Apples & Pears
September 23, 2016
Growers Encouraged To Monitor Fruit Temp…
With early harvests, Randy Beaudry of Michigan State University says temperature monitoring is a must. Read More
Berries
September 23, 2016
What U.S. Consumers Think About Florida …
For growers, the good news is that shoppers like what you are serving up. But more can be done to whet appetites. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]