Oct 12, 2010
03:32 PMThe Wind Machine
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) released a report on September 29 that previews certain funding issues that Congress will face when drafting the next multi-year Farm Bill. The report points out 37 current agriculture programs that will need budgetary off-sets if they are to continue beyond the present Farm Bill, legislation that is set to expire at the end of September 2012. Given it is highly unlikely that the next Congress will have more money to spend on agriculture—and probably less—it will be difficult for the supporters of these 37 programs to avoid their being on the fiscal chopping block. At the very least, they will be under extreme scrutiny. (Which all federal programs should be, in any event.)
The good news for the tree fruit industry is that 75% of the money at stake ($10 billion) is tied to just three programs, one being the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, that are not of direct concern to us.
The bad news is that several programs listed by CRS are of concern to us; for example, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the National Clean Plant Network.
The nation’s produce industry, including the Northwest Horticultural Council, has already started work on the next Farm Bill under the umbrella of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. Co-chairmen are Mike Stuart of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, John Keeling of the National Potato Council, and Tom Nassif of Western Growers, while the United Fresh Produce Association in Washington, D.C., acts as the clearing house for this national coalition. I serve on the SCFBA’s steering committee.
Political Fruit: “They are going to try to pick off what they think is low-hanging fruit,” Mr. Good said. “But the only way Charlie or Zack can lose is if our party does not get out the vote.” Jeff Zeleny in The New York Times (10/11/10).