Growers Switching Specialties

USDA has announced a pilot project to convert some corn/soybean cropland to specialty crops — beginning with the 2009 season. 

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the new pilot project will permit producers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin to plant such vegetables as cucumbers, green peas, lima beans, pumpkins, snap beans, sweet corn, or tomatoes for processing on base acres under the Direct and Counter-Cyclical Program.

“This program offers producers in these seven states opportunities to diversify their crop production and better use their base acres,” Vilsack says. “It’s an important step in implementing the 2008 Farm Bill, providing farmers with additional sources of revenue, and supporting the production of healthy fruits and vegetables.”

Authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill, the Planting Transferability Pilot Project (PTPP) allows producers to plant approved fruits or vegetables for processing on a farm’s base acres — these include cucumbers, green peas, lima beans, pumpkin, snap beans, sweet corn, or tomatoes. Without the PTPP, planting these crops on base acres would be prohibited. Base acres on a farm will be temporarily reduced each year on an acre-for-acre basis, for each base acre planted with an approved fruit or vegetable on that farm.

The approved states and acreages are:
Illinois: 9,000 acres
Indiana: 9,000 acres
Iowa: 1,000 acres
Michigan: 9,000
Minnesota: 34,000
Ohio: 4,000
Wisconsin: 9,000

Eligible participants must agree to produce one of the approved crops for processing and to provide the county Farm Service Agency (FSA) office with a copy of the contract between the producer and processing plant. Participants must agree to produce the crop as part of a program of crop rotation on the farm to achieve agronomic, pest, and disease management benefits, and to provide disposition evidence of the crop. Participants must complete form CCC-749 and file it with their county FSA office.

The PTPP sign-up period began Feb. 3 and ends on March 2, 2009. USDA will not accept applications filed after that date.

Please let us know how you think this pilot project will impact the industry.

Leave a Reply

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I think this program will hurt the industry. I am in Illinois and I know that to much of one thing in the vegetable industry can ruin them. Besides it will only benefit the northern half of the state, which is where the processors are located. Also there, they already have some of the best soils and can grow 200+ bushel corn, the southern part of the state needs new crops and needs the alternative crops to help out the small farms, and not the large 3000+ acre farms

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

For new growers, there is a catch 22. You can’t get financing for the new “specialty” crop without a contract, and often you can’t get a contract unless you have a track record. This loop makes it hard for some growers to even get started.
Also, many growers used to handling grains (which are once-over harvest and non-perishable) don’t have the facilities or skills to handle perishables, or in some cases, multiple harvest crops. It helps if the processor takes care of all that, but the grower better read his contract to find out what he’s responsible for, and consider whether he really wants the obligations specified.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

This is bad for farming all around! The government is reaching too far this time. I am a small vegetable grower in the South and market my own crops and take personal risk to obtain production funding. Now the fed wants to give an advantage to large row crop farming that is already receiving aid and has more capitol If the government would not have ruined our reputation as a world supplier of grain in the 1970’s and now continue to hinder trade for our farmers products they would not need to prop up so many farms in the first place.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

This is the result of the smoke and mirrors when writing the Farm Bill. The specialty crops block grants were to buy our support so the bill could elliminate the planting prohibitions on program acres because the WTO is trying to maniplate US Ag production.

If corn/soybean producers want to get into specialty crops, then they should give up their base acres. Why should they get an advantage that is not offered to producers of non-program crops.

This is also an advantage for the processors in regards to low-balling contracts. Up to now there are only so many acres committed because of the planting prohibition. If more acres are made available, those set up to produce will be adversely manipulated with phantom competition and/or economy of scale pricing.

Again, profitability is taken out of the equation. Our industry will continue to be hamstrung with government interference.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I grow processing vegetables in the Pacific Northwest and I don’t like this new provision. We have foregone program payments all these years to grow vegetables and now the government is going to effectively subsidize competition for our acres. We need to get the government out of agriculture and let the market decide where the best place to grow a certain crop is. These are tiny markets compared to the grain markets and a few thousand more acres will be detrimental.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Small farmer here was diversified in 80s its what brought me through the 80s then the goverment told everyone to get more diversified build roadside markets increase overall profit.I knew what it cost me to raise 1 flower,1 dozen sweet corn,greenbeans,ect..many of these people couldnt have known there true cost,my neighbors were then selling for way less than i was selling wholesale to several markets for.They did not think of ther cost overall. I know they didnt because i took the time to try to get them to understand what they were doing to themselves but,they only saw cash in there hand.They thought they were making a fortune on a handfull of seeds.The goverment has done it to the markets once agian!Soon you will have to farm the entire state just to make a living at this!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I’m sorry the misconceptions about this program continue. First, it only involves processing crop producers, not fresh market producers. Secondly, the producers DO give up their payments so it is not subsidized production, it just allows farmers like Michael Ellison and Frank the opportunity to improve their farming operations by giving them the opportunity to contact a processor and maybe obtain a contract. As “D” said, it is not easy, but at least the government is not preventing an enterprising farmer from trying to obtain a contract. All the project is designed to do is to improve the rotation capabilities of current growers, allow new generations of farmers to take over their family operations, and enable new producers who want to enter a market to be able to without the government telling them what they can and cannot grow. It fixes the unintentional consequences that came about when soybeans became a program crop. If there are complaints about unfair subsidies they should be directed at southern producers who under current law may actually collect farm subsidies on a commodity crop and then turn around and double crop onto the same farm ground. That’s unfair competition. Taking no government payment does not qualify as being subsidized. I hope that the facts of the matter may be considered rather than rhetoric and emotion and all phases of fruit and vegetable production can actually work together as an industry to find solutions for the real problems we all face.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

We are contract vegetable growers in South Caroline seeking contracts currently. If your wanting to contract with us to grow your produce.. contact us at: [email protected]

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I think this program will hurt the industry. I am in Illinois and I know that to much of one thing in the vegetable industry can ruin them. Besides it will only benefit the northern half of the state, which is where the processors are located. Also there, they already have some of the best soils and can grow 200+ bushel corn, the southern part of the state needs new crops and needs the alternative crops to help out the small farms, and not the large 3000+ acre farms

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

For new growers, there is a catch 22. You can’t get financing for the new “specialty” crop without a contract, and often you can’t get a contract unless you have a track record. This loop makes it hard for some growers to even get started.
Also, many growers used to handling grains (which are once-over harvest and non-perishable) don’t have the facilities or skills to handle perishables, or in some cases, multiple harvest crops. It helps if the processor takes care of all that, but the grower better read his contract to find out what he’s responsible for, and consider whether he really wants the obligations specified.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

This is bad for farming all around! The government is reaching too far this time. I am a small vegetable grower in the South and market my own crops and take personal risk to obtain production funding. Now the fed wants to give an advantage to large row crop farming that is already receiving aid and has more capitol If the government would not have ruined our reputation as a world supplier of grain in the 1970’s and now continue to hinder trade for our farmers products they would not need to prop up so many farms in the first place.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

This is the result of the smoke and mirrors when writing the Farm Bill. The specialty crops block grants were to buy our support so the bill could elliminate the planting prohibitions on program acres because the WTO is trying to maniplate US Ag production.

If corn/soybean producers want to get into specialty crops, then they should give up their base acres. Why should they get an advantage that is not offered to producers of non-program crops.

This is also an advantage for the processors in regards to low-balling contracts. Up to now there are only so many acres committed because of the planting prohibition. If more acres are made available, those set up to produce will be adversely manipulated with phantom competition and/or economy of scale pricing.

Again, profitability is taken out of the equation. Our industry will continue to be hamstrung with government interference.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I grow processing vegetables in the Pacific Northwest and I don’t like this new provision. We have foregone program payments all these years to grow vegetables and now the government is going to effectively subsidize competition for our acres. We need to get the government out of agriculture and let the market decide where the best place to grow a certain crop is. These are tiny markets compared to the grain markets and a few thousand more acres will be detrimental.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

Small farmer here was diversified in 80s its what brought me through the 80s then the goverment told everyone to get more diversified build roadside markets increase overall profit.I knew what it cost me to raise 1 flower,1 dozen sweet corn,greenbeans,ect..many of these people couldnt have known there true cost,my neighbors were then selling for way less than i was selling wholesale to several markets for.They did not think of ther cost overall. I know they didnt because i took the time to try to get them to understand what they were doing to themselves but,they only saw cash in there hand.They thought they were making a fortune on a handfull of seeds.The goverment has done it to the markets once agian!Soon you will have to farm the entire state just to make a living at this!

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

I’m sorry the misconceptions about this program continue. First, it only involves processing crop producers, not fresh market producers. Secondly, the producers DO give up their payments so it is not subsidized production, it just allows farmers like Michael Ellison and Frank the opportunity to improve their farming operations by giving them the opportunity to contact a processor and maybe obtain a contract. As “D” said, it is not easy, but at least the government is not preventing an enterprising farmer from trying to obtain a contract. All the project is designed to do is to improve the rotation capabilities of current growers, allow new generations of farmers to take over their family operations, and enable new producers who want to enter a market to be able to without the government telling them what they can and cannot grow. It fixes the unintentional consequences that came about when soybeans became a program crop. If there are complaints about unfair subsidies they should be directed at southern producers who under current law may actually collect farm subsidies on a commodity crop and then turn around and double crop onto the same farm ground. That’s unfair competition. Taking no government payment does not qualify as being subsidized. I hope that the facts of the matter may be considered rather than rhetoric and emotion and all phases of fruit and vegetable production can actually work together as an industry to find solutions for the real problems we all face.

Avatar for Anonymous Anonymous says:

We are contract vegetable growers in South Caroline seeking contracts currently. If your wanting to contract with us to grow your produce.. contact us at: [email protected]