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Specialty Crop Issues in the 109th Congress

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Publication Date: October 2006

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: RL32951

Topic: Agriculture, forestry and fishing (Crop management)

Abstract:

The U.S. specialty crop sector is comprised of producers, handlers, processors, and retailers of fruit, vegetable, tree nut, and nursery crops. The major U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) commodity price and income support programs do not include specialty crops, but the industry benefits generally from USDA programs related to trade, conservation, credit, protection from pests and diseases, domestic food assistance programs, crop insurance and disaster payments, research, and other areas. Certain programs of the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of Labor also affect the specialty crop sector.

The 108th Congress passed the first law intended to address selected issues of importance to the specialty crop industry as a whole (the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act of 2004, P.L. 108-465). It is widely expected that this act will serve as the basis of more comprehensive debate on policies affecting the sector when the House and Senate Agriculture Committees begin consideration of the omnibus farm bill that would take effect when the current farm act (P.L. 107-171) expires in 2007. Another bill that might serve a similar purpose has been introduced in the 109th Congress. The Specialty Crops and Value-Added Agriculture Promotion Act (S. 1556) would amend the 2004 Act to make some of its authorities permanent, and to address issues related to trade, the revenue insurance program, and marketing opportunities for specialty crops. See CRS Report RL33520, Specialty Crops: 2007 Farm Bill Issues for more information.

Bills addressing a number of other industry-related issues were introduced in the 109 Congress. These include appropriations for the programs authorized in P.L. 108-465 (H.R. 2744); planting flexibility proposals that could have affected specialty crop supplies and prices (H.R. 2045/S. 1038; S. 194); and guest worker program reform (S. 359/H.R. 884, and others). This report summarizes the 109th Congress's activity on these bills and other specialty crop issues, and will not be updated.