Senate Ag Chair Stabenow on Strengthening Protections for Specialty Crop Producers in Farm Bill

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who serves as Chair of the Senate Ag Committee.

 

Tomatoes, pumpkins, and watermelons are just three of the biggest specialty crops produced here in Indiana. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who serves as Senate Ag Chair, recently told Hoosier Ag Today about her plans to strengthen protections for specialty crop producers with the next Farm Bill.

“We’re doing a number of things that address the issues that the specialty crop folks have brought to us,” said Stabenow.

Following the release of the Senate Ag Democrats’ overview for the next Farm Bill, she says her proposal offers improvements for specialty crops including a change to adjusted gross income (AGI) limits for some programs.

“We’re strengthening what’s called NAP,” she said, which is the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program. It provides financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops when they have low yields loss of inventory or prevented planting because of natural disasters.

“[If] you lose your trees, your orchard, or whatever, I think you can 65-percent reimbursement—we’re upping that to 75 percent,” she says.

As far as passing the Farm Bill, Stabenow says it takes a joint effort from a lot of angles.

“We don’t get a Farm Bill done unless it’s bipartisan—period,” said Stabenow. “I’ve been involved in six Farm Bills. This is the third one I’ve led in the Senate, and I know how to get bills done. I know that you do that by keeping the broad Farm Bill coalition together, and that means commodities and conservationists and foresters and environmentalists and nutrition folks and local governments and bioenergy—it’s all of it.”

Both the Senate and House overviews for the Farm Bill increase funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program and maintain the funding for the local agriculture market program. The House overview of the bill maintains the National Organic Program and The Organic Certification Cost Share Program while the Senate’s overview of the bill increases funding for both.