Nutrition & Horticulture Subcommittee Examines Specialty Crop Programs

Jul 7, 2011

Tamara Hinton, 202.225.0184

WASHINGTON – Today, Rep. Jean Schmidt, Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Nutrition and Horticulture, held an audit hearing to examine specialty crop programs. This is the third hearing in the series on farm policy that is designed to provide oversight of current spending to ensure programs are delivered effectively, while minimizing waste, fraud, abuse, and duplication. It also provides Members of the Committee with a comprehensive view of farm programs.

Specialty crops are defined as "fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, and horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture." The 2008 Farm Bill was the first to have a title dedicated to specialty crops. There are a number of programs under Title X of the Farm Bill, including Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Pest and Disease Prevention, and others, as well as the administration of Section 32 of the Act of August 24, 1935. Specialty crops are eligible for support through nutrition, conservation, research, crop insurance, disaster assistance, and trade promotion.

"As we approach the next farm bill, it is imperative that we hear directly from USDA so we can fully understand what is working and what is not. Some of the decisions on program authorizations and funding levels will be difficult, but with proper evaluation, I am confident that we can put together a farm bill that meets the goals of food safety and security, rural prosperity, and nutritional well-being.  This hearing was a good step in that process," said Chairman Jean Schmidt (R-OH).

"Specialty crops and organic agriculture are an essential aspect of America’s 21st century farm policy. The Title X programs examined at today’s hearing are necessary to ensure that American products, grown by American farmers, are readily available to consumers.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to make certain the down payment made on behalf of specialty crop and organic producers does not go to waste," said Ranking Member Joe Baca (D-CA).

Written testimony provided by the witnesses is linked below.

Witness List:

Panel I

Ms. Rayne Pegg, Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Rebecca Bech, Deputy Administrator for Plant Protection and Quarantine, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.