AmericanHort Commends Passage of Farm Bill
Thursday, December 13, 2018
For Immediate Release
December 12, 2018
Mary Beth Cowardin
Vice President Marketing & Member Engagement
AmericanHort Commends Passage of Farm Bill
Final Bill a Big Win for Horticulture
AmericanHort commended Congress on Wednesday for the swift passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which cleared by overwhelming bipartisan votes in both the House and Senate this week. The Senate voted 87-13 on Tuesday while the House passed the legislation by a 369-47 vote this afternoon. The bill now awaits the President’s signature to be enacted into law and will be in effect until 2023.
“This Farm Bill is a monumental win for the horticulture industry. Through provisions such as increased funding for research programs, sustained commitments to help our industry deal with pest and disease threats, improved intellectual property options, and research & development for better greenhouse crop insurance – this Farm Bill has it all. We commend leadership of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, along with party leadership, on getting this bill done and delivering for our industry,” said AmericanHort senior vice president Craig Regelbrugge.
Some top highlights in the Farm Bill:
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI): Allows for specialty crops to compete for the full $80 million per year for specialty crop research. This was achieved by moving $25 million in dedicated citrus industry funding, which was previously taken from the overall funding, into a separate trust fund. The new provisions provide a $125 million increase over current law for the new five-year Farm Bill.
- Specialty Crop Block Grants: Provides continued funding at $85 million a year. This represents a significant increase in total funding for the program over the five-year lifespan of the Farm Bill from $375 million to $425 million. The legislation also works to help ease existing hurdles in current law that have made the funding of marketing and multi-state projects more difficult.
- Pest and Disease: Maintains FY2018 funding at $75 million per year for pest and disease prevention and mitigation initiatives. Overall this is an increase of $50 million over the life of the 2018 Farm Bill. It also reauthorizes the National Clean Plant Network, which protects key sectors from pathogen threats by providing access to pathogen-tested accessions of the newest varieties of tree fruit, berry, roses, and other high-value horticultural crops.
- Greenhouse Crop Insurance: Initiates research and development into potential expansion/improvement of greenhouse crop insurance coverage.
Other key provisions worthy of mention include expanded plant intellectual property rights options for plant breeders, as well as language throughout the research title to ensure prioritization of research into labor-saving mechanization and automation in various USDA programs.
“Passing the Farm Bill was a critical priority for our organization in 2018, as grassroots action and lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. played a big part in the success of this effort. AmericanHort members and grassroots partners sent hundreds of emails to their elected officials while our advocacy team engaged directly with lawmakers and staff via joint efforts with the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance,” said AmericanHort director of government relations, Tal Coley. “We look forward to building off the success of its passage and allowing the industry to access and use the resources which it contains.”
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 rich history of serving horticultural professionals, AmericanHort supports nearly 14,000 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 $196 billion, and sustain over 1.6 million full- and part-time jobs.