Larsen Pushes for Increased Funding for Specialty Crop Block Grants To Help U.S. Producers Compete Abroad</A

Apr 30, 2007


Washington, D.C. - Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02) is calling on House appropriations leaders to increase funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grants program to help U.S. producers compete in markets around the world. In a letter sent today to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Larsen urged appropriators to fully fund the Specialty Crop Block Grants program which received only $7 million of the $44.5 million authorized by the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 for each of the past two years. Larsen, his colleague Rep. Adam Putnam (R-FL) and 65 of their House colleagues asked appropriators to provide the full $44.5 million in block grants to state agriculture departments to support research, improve food safety and inspection, and enhance the ability of American producers to compete internationally.

“Growers in Washington state are not only competing with farmers down the road, but around the world,” said Larsen. “To help Washington farmers thrive in the face of international competition, we need to plant the seeds for success.  That means investing in initiatives that work like the Specialty Crop Block grants program.”

Earlier this year, Larsen met with Northwest Washington farmers in three counties to discuss the challenges they face competing internationally against foreign producers who are often heavily subsidized and minimally regulated. Washington, whose specialty crops include potatoes, raspberries and nursery products, is the third-largest producer of specialty crops in the country. Specialty crops account for around fifty percent of total cash receipts both nationally and in Washington state. 

Larsen is committed to helping specialty crops producers stay competitive.  In March, Larsen and his colleagues Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Rep. Adam Putman (R-FL), Rep. John Salazar (D-CO), Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-NY) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced the “Equitable Agriculture Today for a Healthy America Act” (EAT Healthy America Act).  This bill would support specialty crop growers by increasing market access, encouraging and facilitating consumption of nutritious agricultural products, expanding funding for research programs and increasing opportunities for family farmers in conservation programs.