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Subcommittee reviews farm bill specialty crop and organic agriculture programs

Agriculture.com Staff 07/21/2010 @ 11:00pm

Liz Friedlander and James Ryder, House Agriculture Committee

Today, Congressman Dennis Cardoza, D-Calif., Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture, held a hearing to review specialty crop and organic agriculture programs in advance of the 2012 Farm Bill.

The Subcommittee heard from producers from operations of various sizes that grow a diversity of products, and they provided insight on U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Bill program implementation at the ground level.

"I am once again reminded of the extraordinary diversity of products and practices represented by the specialty and organic sectors of our nation's agriculture industry," said Subcommittee Chairman Cardoza. "It is imperative we work together to address health and nutrition issues in this country by increasing accessibility to healthy fruits and vegetables. Based on what I have heard today, it is clear we have work to do but are on the right track."

"As we approach the next farm bill, it is imperative that we hear directly from growers and to understand first-hand what is working and what is not working. Given today's regulatory burdens, programs in the farm bill will be even more important to helping our producers comply with potential federal mandates, remain competitive in the global marketplace, and continue to supply the world with the safest and most plentiful and abundant food supply," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio.

The Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 was the first Farm Bill to contain a separate title dedicated to horticulture and organic agriculture, addressing issues regarding specialty crop block grants, planting flexibility, pest and disease management, organic certification cost-share and conversation and specialty crop research. According to USDA's Economic Research Service, specialty crops account for approximately 50 percent of all U.S. cash receipts of farm crops.

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