On Dec. 20, U.S. President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill into law at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, with USDA secretary Sonny Perdue, members of Congress and stakeholders of the agriculture industry in attendance.
The bill includes funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), Plant Pest & Disease Management Program, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and Food Insecurity and Nutrition Incentive. It also legalizes hemp.
“This Farm Bill is a monumental win for the horticulture industry,” said AmericanHort senior vice president Craig Regelbrugge in a statement. “Through provisions such as increased funding for research programs, sustained commitments to help our industry deal with pest and disease threats, improved intellectual property options, and research & development for better greenhouse crop insurance – this Farm Bill has it all. We commend leadership of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, along with party leadership, on getting this bill done and delivering for our industry.”
“The 2018 Farm Bill contains a wealth of provisions for the horticulture industry – funding increases for specialty crop research and block grants, pest and disease prevention and mitigation initiatives, and potential greenhouse crop insurance program expansion and improvement,” said Karen Summers, executive vice president of the Southern Nursery Association (SNA), in a statement. “Also included in the bill is research for labor-saving mechanization and automation in USDA programs and an update to the U.S. Plant Variety Protection Act to protect the intellectual property of plant breeders.”
“H.R. 2, Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, is a big deal for our industry,” Summers said. “It provides vital investments in research, extension, and education. With continued labor shortages, continuous battles with pest and diseases and a diminishing number of tools to fight them, this bill has the potential to provide countless opportunities for success to so many.”
“We not only commend the House, Senate and President Trump for enacting this law, but also AmericanHort for their tireless efforts on Capitol Hill,” Summers added. “We, as an industry, are very fortunate to have their voice representing us in Washington, D.C. They have played an instrumental role in the formation of this bill and its passage.”
“The 2018 Farm Bill is a major victory for fresh produce,” Robert Guenther, senior vice president of Public Policy at the United Fresh Produce Association, said in a statement. “Despite differences between the House and Senate, Congress has once again shown that when legislation is dealt with in a bipartisan manner, the American people will benefit.”
The bill is the first law in the United States to feature statutory language about plant biostimulants, the Biological Products Industry Alliance (BPIA) said in a press release.
“The 2018 Farm Bill describes a plant biostimulant as ‘a substance or micro-organism that, when applied to seeds, plants, or the rhizosphere, stimulates natural processes to enhance or benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress, or crop quality and yield,’” BPIA said in the release. “Biostimulants are playing an increasingly important role with farmers to make their crops more productive thereby increasing farm profitability.