Few programs within the farm bill are designed for specialty crops, and even fewer are designed specifically for specialty crops. However, the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) program is just that, and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance wants to keep the program how it was intended twenty years ago.
TASC was first passed in the 2002 farm bill. The program funds projects that address sanitary, phytosanitary, and technical barriers that prohibit or threaten the export of U.S. specialty crops. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, eligible activities include seminars and workshops, study tours, field surveys, pest and disease research, and pre-clearance programs. USDA says eligible crops include all cultivated plants and their products produced in the United States except wheat, feed grains, oilseeds, cotton, rice, peanuts, sugar, and tobacco.
“It’s not a big program. It’s $9 million or so, but we do think that’s one of the important recommendations we made is to maintain its uniqueness for specialty crops,” said Robert Guenther, Chief Public Policy Officer of the International Fresh Produce Association and Secretary of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. “We’ll continue to push for that in this farm bill as well.”
Keeping the program strictly for specialty crops means making sure that approximately $9 million in projects goes to programs for specialty crop growers, as it’s intended to.
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National Correspondent / AgNet Media, Inc.
Sabrina Halvorson is an award-winning journalist, broadcaster, and public speaker who specializes in agriculture. She primarily reports on legislative issues and hosts The AgNet Weekly podcast. Sabrina is a native of California’s agriculture-rich Central Valley.