Iowa Public Television


Specialty Crop Growers Seek Government Help

posted on June 16, 2006

A panel of farmers from Washington and Oregon informed members of a congressional committee that fruit and vegetable growers in the Pacific Northwest want access to new markets and more money for research, instead of direct subsidies.

This meeting marked what could be the beginning of a heated debate over dividing money in the next farm bill between farmers who grow heavily-subsidized crops and those whose specialty crops receive federal aid.

Agriculture is Washington state's most-lucrative industry and is valued at $5.5 billion annually. Washington farmers grow more than 230 crops and many are considered specialty crops - generally fruits, nuts, vegetables, and berries - that do not receive direct payment or aid when prices or demand is low.

Larry Olsen farms more than 2,100 acres of apples, cherries, grapes, hops, wheat, and blueberries. Olsen fears specialty crop producers will be lost in the shuffle.

Tags: agriculture crops government markets news