The staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry held an informational meeting related to the Farm Bill with a focus on Specialty Crops Tuesday in Ottawa County.
“The 2014 Farm Bill will expire on September 30, 2018. Without reauthorization, many key programs important to our industry will no longer be available.” Stated, Mike Wenkel, executive director of the Michigan Potato Industry Commission(MPIC).
The 39 programs that expire include Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) which has been used to address technical and phytosanitary barriers prohibiting or threatening the exports of U.S. potatoes and the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentives Grant Program (FINI) which is known to many in Michigan as the Double-Up-Food-Bucks program allowing SNAP participants to double up their dollars when purchasing fruits and vegetables.
In addition to requesting that these programs receive funding in the 2018 Farm Bill, the industry is also requesting the following:
Secure $105 million annually for the vital, oversubscribed Specialty Crop Research Initiative SCRI)
Secure increased funding for the pest and disease program totaling $82.5 million annually in 2022 and 2032 and $10 million annually for the National Clean Plant Network for those same years
Increased funding for the Market Access Program (MAP)
Wenkel continued “the Michigan potato industry will be engaged whenever possible with decision makers in Washington, D.C. as we continue to work through the Farm Bill reauthorization process.”