The 2012 Farm Bill, known formally as the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act (S. 3240), cleared a major procedural hurdle on Thursday, June 7, with 90 of 100 Senators voting to take up the bill.
However, do not be fooled by the broad support to begin debate. Many contentious issues remain and will be raised when the bill is considered by the full U.S. Senate this week.
The Senate bill features several positive provisions for specialty crops, including Christmas Trees and nursery crops, including:
- Mandatory funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI; Sec. 7305).
- Greater industry involvement and consultation during the review process of SCRI grants.
- Increased pest and disease program funding, which is used for innovative efforts to identify and block threats before they get to the U.S., and to quickly detect and respond to new threats that do get here (Sec. 10007).
- Continued funding for the National Clean Plant Network (also within Sec. 10007).
- Increased funding for Specialty Crop Block Grants to $70 million per year (Sec. 10008).
The bill is not without controversy. Southern peanut and rice farmers don't like elimination of direct payments for their commodities. Some fiscal conservatives aren't happy that the bill only delivers $23 billion in savings, and they also oppose modest investments in infrastructure such as research and pest prevention.
Take a moment to let your Senators know of your support for the Farm Bill's funding for specialty crops, including Christmas Trees and nursery crops. Click here to send a letter or email to your senators.
While not currently addressed in the Farm Bill, there is a possibility of amendments being introduced that could be hostile toward current or future industry checkoff programs. NCTA is keeping an eye on the Senate discussions and will keep you updated.
Source: American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA)