The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is putting a focus on specialty crops with new investments and the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Initiative (SCCI) which was announced back in November.
Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs and a fifth-generation California farmer, was in Michigan last week as part of a multi-state tour to meet with producers. The goal was to hear directly from producers about ways in which USDA could support the industry.
“This is really aimed at enhancing and partnering with a specialty crop industry and across the USDA to make sure first the resources that USDA has for producers are pulled together in one place, and that producers have a one-stop-shop to learn more about all the resources we have,” she said. “Also, to hear from producers about how our resources can continue into the future, to better serve specialty crop producers.”
She says it’s a multi-agency effort within the USDA.
“So, it’s all of us at USDA coming together, recognizing that across our different agencies at the department we touch on and support specialty crop producers, whether that is through crop insurance designed for specialty crop producers, to research, to market and promotion opportunities,” Lester Moffitt said.
According to the USDA, the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Initiative aims to further support these farmers on international competitiveness, industry research, and increase awareness of and access to relevant USDA programs. With this effort, USDA aims to evaluate and enhance its industry programs and better understand current and future challenges.
“Our hope is to continue to ensure that specialty crop producers remain competitive and can continue to improve their sustainability and the profitability of their operations,” she said. “This is really about a number of initiatives that USDA has launched in this administration to ensure that our programs increase competition for producers of all sizes. We’re working to help ensure that producers can get fair prices for their products and have more markets, both domestic and international to sell their products.”
The USDA has more about the initiative on its website at https://www.usda.gov/specialty-crops.