Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Forwards Farm Bill Recommendations to House Agriculture Committee

Jun 7, 2007

WASHINGTON - Today, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture approved proposals for the Farm Bill titles under their jurisdiction. Congressman Dennis Cardoza of California is the Chairman of the Subcommittee.

The Subcommittee considered a discussion draft outlining proposals under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction and approved several amendments by voice vote. Copies of the discussion draft and the amendments approved by the Subcommittee are available online. A brief summary of the discussion draft considered and amendments adopted is included below.

“This Subcommittee was created out of a need to focus more attention on organic agriculture and specialty crops,” Chairman Cardoza said.  “I believe we have crafted a thoughtful and responsible Subcommittee mark today which recognizes the needs of these important sectors of American agriculture.  I would like to thank all members of the Subcommittee for their insight, cooperation, and patience in this process.” 

"Fruits and vegetables comprise a significant share of U.S. agriculture, and our Farm Bill should support them. As our Subcommittee’s portion of the farm bill moves toward the full committee, I want to work with Chairman Cardoza and all the Subcommittee members to make the best use of limited resources for the benefit of fruit and vegetable producers," said Subcommittee Ranking Member Randy Neugebauer.

The discussion draft considered by the Subcommittee expands the specialty crop block grant program, doubles the amount of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) purchases of fruits and vegetables for use in school lunch and other feeding programs, extends the honey marketing loan program, requires USDA to continue monitoring and searching for a solution to address Colony Collapse Disorder in honey bees, funds USDA’s cost-share program for organic producers seeking certification, expands the Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, provides USDA authority to include good handling practices and other measures to ensure food safety in marketing orders for specialty crops, establishes new tools and programs to address plant pests and diseases, authorizes the establishment of quality requirements for clementines, and establishes uniform maturity requirements for Haas avocadoes. It also restores to the Department of Agriculture responsibility for border inspection of imported agricultural products.

The following amendments were approved by voice votes:

  • Chairman Cardoza’s amendment to provide an independent evaluation of the USDA commodity purchasing process, particularly considering Section 32 and the importance of increasing purchases of specialty crops.
  • Congresswoman Virginia Foxx’s amendment to redirect funds for USDA to collect organic production and market data
  • Congressman Kevin McCarthy’s amendment to establish a Fresh Produce Education Initiative to inform industry and the public about food safety handling and practices
  • Congressman Randy Kuhl’s amendment to establish the National Clean Plant network to fund the distribution of healthy plant stocks in the specialty crops industry
  • Congressman Randy Kuhl’s amendment to increase the payment limitation cap for payments under the Tree Assistance Program from $75,000 per year to $150,000 per year

All markups will be broadcast live on the House Agriculture Committee’s website.