News & Press: Press Release

AmericanHort Welcomes Release of 2018 Farm Bill

Friday, April 13, 2018  
Posted by: Terri Brown

For Immediate Release

April 13, 2018
Mary Beth Cowardin
Vice President Marketing & Member Engagement
MaryBethC@AmericanHort.org
614-884-1137 Direct

 

AmericanHort Welcomes Release of 2018 Farm Bill

Washington, D.C. – The House Agriculture Committee has just released its version of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Committee is scheduled to consider the bill on April 18, 2018. 

 “AmericanHort commends Chairman Mike Conaway on his efforts to draft a 2018 Farm Bill that addresses key priorities for specialty crops and horticulture, and to begin debate on this critical piece of legislation,” said Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort senior vice president for advocacy and research.  Essential elements in the bill include research and innovation initiatives as well as pest prevention and disaster programs that provide basic infrastructure and support, much the equivalent of ‘municipal utilities and services,’ for our industry.

The legislation sustains and builds on sound policy for our industry, and the provisions most important to horticulture enjoy the support of most Ag Committee Republicans as well as Democrats.  “Our leading members were passionate advocates for these programs when they met with Congress last fall, and we are pleased at the progress,” said Tal Coley, AmericanHort Director of Government Affairs.  

However, the bill’s path forward is somewhat uncertain due to provisions unrelated to farm and specialty crop policy that are controversial, and may lead to difficult debate and votes along party lines.  Farm bills are typically enacted with broad bipartisan engagement and support, and we are hopeful that the dialogue and bipartisan cooperation seen in previous Farm Bill debates will ultimately prevail.

Priority programs for the horticulture industry in the bill include:

Specialty Crop Research Initiative - Funding would be $80 million per year. Priorities for research are refined and expanded to include mechanization and automation of labor-intensive tasks, decision support systems, and prevention and monitoring systems for pests, including quarantine pests.

Plant Pest and Disease Management Program and National Clean Plant Network - Funding would continue at $80 million per year. These programs provide ‘first dollars’ for responding to and mitigating invasive plant pest threats and providing access to clean, pathogen tested accessions of tree fruit, small fruit, grapevines, hops, and roses for evaluation, development, and propagation.

Specialty Crop Block Grants – These grants, mostly administered by the states, have funded numerous research, statistical, and marketing programs benefiting the green industry. The legislative proposal would fund this program at $85 million per year, and seeks to clarify eligible projects and performance evaluation language that has hampered use of the program. 

Other areas of special interest for AmericanHort during the Farm Bill process are to expand options for protecting plant breeders’ rights to spur innovation, and to ensure that “safety net” disaster programs work better for nursery and Christmas tree producers.

“We understand that this is the formal beginning of a long process.  We look forward to engaging both parties and both chambers toward the goal of a new Farm Bill that helps our industry to perform and grow,” Regelbrugge concluded. 

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About AmericanHort

Green industry businesses perform better, grow faster and prepare for the future as a member of AmericanHort, the green industry’s leading association. With a history of 220+ years serving horticultural professionals, AmericanHort supports nearly 16,000 member and affiliated businesses that include breeders, greenhouse and nursery growers, garden retailers, distributors, interior and exterior landscape professionals, florists, students, educators, researchers, manufacturers, and all of those who are part of the industry market chain. The horticulture industry's production, wholesale, retail, and landscape service components have annual sales of $163 billion, and sustain over 1.15 million full- and part-time jobs.