2007 Farm Bill: Policy Options and Consequences for Northeast Specialty Crops industries, Small Farms, and Sustainability Programs
Bills, Nelson L.; Gloy, Brent A.; Uva, Wen-fei L.; White, Gerald B.; Cheng, Mei-luan
In phase I of the Specialty Crops project, we solicited information and feedback on specialty crop industry members’ views and preferences with respect to the upcoming 2007 Farm Bill. Several aspects of Federal support for specialty crop producers are considered. This information was used to gauge responsiveness to a wide set of policy options and possible directions for titles that might be incorporated into the next farm bill. The geographic focus of this report encompasses the Northeastern US, defined here to include 12 states—Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and West Virginia. Four listening sessions were organized, and a mail survey was administered that focused on the views and opinions of representatives from specialty crop organizations across the Northeast region. (Our definition of specialty crops included the following categories: fruit, vegetables, floriculture, nursery, turf, maple syrup, Christmas trees, aquaculture, honey, and mushrooms.) We complemented these activities with contacts with individual growers, extension educators, members of the agribusiness community, and state agricultural officials. In many cases, these individuals indicated that they completed the questionnaire after canvassing the views and opinions of their membership. We received survey responses from 37 organizations, nearly 50% of the organizations contacted. Major findings are as follows: Specialty Crops interests were not generally in favor of traditional program crop instruments (e.g. price supports, regulated prices, loan rates, deficiency payments, countercyclical payments, etc.). Specialty Crops interests were in favor of subsidized revenue insurance policies (e.g. AGR and AGR-Lite) or alternatives such as subsidized counter cyclical, tax deferred savings accounts. There were mixed results regarding disaster assistance. Some Specialty Crops interests saw the need for a continuation of disaster assistance. Others maintained that disaster assistance was ad hoc, making it difficult for producers to make rational business planning decisions about risk management. There was generally strong support for conservation type programs that are better tailored for Specialty Crops resource situations.
Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University