'Speciality Crop' Act--Down Payment On Future

Published online: Oct 01, 2004
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After leading the fight to get some recognition for speciality crops, the Western Growers Association of California and Arizona yesterday achieved passage of HR 3242 in the House Agriculture Committee.

The bill, approved on a voice vote, was sponsored by Congressmen Doug Ose (R-CA) and Cal Dooley (D-CA).  It will authorize $54 million annually to improve the quality and safety of fresh fruits, vegetables and nuts.

The Act will also ensure the future productivity and viability of the U.S. specialty crop industry.

So far the bill has received 120 cosponsors from throughout the Untied States representing growers of more than 250 specialilty crops from asparagus in California, potatoes in Idaho, carrots in Colorado to blueberries in Maine and pineapple in Hawaii.

WGA President and CEO Tom Nassif marked it as the first step on the path toward victory for farmers and consumers.

"We have accomplished a great a deal of what we had set out to do, " said Nassif. "We have raised the visibility of the issues facing specialty crops and raised awareness of our industry's concerns in the minds of the nation's most prominent leaders.

"It is clear from today's mark-up that people  are beginning to recognize the importance of specialty crops to the health of this nation, its economy and its people. The specialty crop industry legislation is a down payment on our future."

Nassif said the United States grows the healthiest and safest food in the world. This action will give the specialilty crop industry the tools it needs to continue to prosper.

The bulk of the funds have been earmarked in the form of block grants for state departments of agriculture to enhance the competitiveness of each of the state's commodities.