WASHINGTON, D.C.: On January 29 the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2014 Farm Bill (H.R. 2642) with a bipartisan vote of 251-166. The bill, formally known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, has been in play since 2012 and will now move to the Senate for a vote, which is expected to take place in the coming days. All predictions are that it will pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President shortly, thereafter.
The five-year Farm Bill is a large and complicated piece of legislation with over 900 pages of text and a price tag of nearly $1 trillion. This particular bill contains considerable reforms in crop subsidies and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as “food stamps”. Depending on who does the math the 2014 Farm Bill contains between $16 and $24 billion in savings.
For the horticulture industry, which is a component of specialty crops, there is expanded support for many of the programs we care most about. Specialty Crop Block Grants will see nearly 55% in additional funding and 2014 will be the first year where multi-state coordinated projects can be submitted. The Specialty Crop Research Initiative will get a significant funding increase and include a revised review process and include an industry stakeholder panel that will evaluate impact and relevance of proposed projects to help in the funding priority selections. Much of the funding inconstancies of the National Clean Plant Network will be alleviated by a technical fix in the funding mechanism and baseline funding that would include NCPN in a continuing resolution, will be establish through its consolidation into the Pest and Disease Management and disaster prevention program – with total funding for the consolidated program increasing by 13.6% in 2014.
AmericanHort has been working over the last five years, in coordination with our Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance partners, to secure the gains reflected in the bill. “For American horticulture, this Farm Bill has been a case of ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ Presuming the Senate follows suit quickly, we will have important tools and certainty. Thanks to all our grassroots advocates who urged the House across the finish line,” said AmericanHort Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge. He added, “The specialty crop programs aren’t about direct payments or subsidies, they’re about helping the horticulture industry to thrive and compete in a global marketplace where the challenges are many and often unpredictable.”.
AmericanHort was formed in 2014 by the consolidation of the American Nursery & Landscape Association and OFA – The Association of Horticulture Professionals. AmericanHort represents the whole of the plant industry, including 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 supply chain. The mission of AmericanHort is to unite, promote, and advance the horticulture industry through advocacy, collaboration, connectivity, education, market development, and research. The association has offices in Columbus, Ohio for administration and member services, and in Washington, DC to facilitate government relations and research activities.