Nov 15, 2023
Bipartisan legislation aims to boost nut exports

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) and Chair Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) introduced legislation, the Specialty Crops Reporting on Opportunities and Promotion Act (Specialty CROP Act), to help farmers fight through trade barriers and sell more nuts, fruits and other specialty crops in foreign markets.

Representatives David Valadao (R-California), Elissa Slotkin (R-Michigan) and Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon) will introduce the House companion legislation.

Specialty CROP Act

The Specialty CROP Act responds to continued high tariffs, burdensome labeling requirements and other trade barriers that restrict U.S. products from accessing foreign markets, threatening rural communities and agricultural producers who depend on customers overseas.

“From high tariffs to onerous labeling requirements, America’s specialty crop growers face a range of barriers imposed by foreign nations that hinder their ability to export their high-quality products around the world,” said Crapo. “Improving the USDA’s Specialty Crop Report will arm producers and trade negotiators with detailed and up-to-date information, helping break down longstanding trade barriers, diversify export markets and expand export opportunities for Idaho’s specialty crop producers.”

“The world is hungry for grown-in-the-U.S. blueberries, potatoes, wine and other produce.  But all too often our farmers and producers are stymied by unreasonable blockades in foreign markets,” said Wyden. “Our bipartisan bill will help rural Americans by identifying unfair foreign trade barriers and creating specific plans to cut through that red tape.”

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Maria Cantwell (D-Washington), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine).

“Specialty crop producers in California have faced many challenges over the last few years—from supply chain backlogs at our ports, rising input costs, labor shortages, and drought,” said Valadao. “Many of our California-grown specialty crops rely on customers overseas, but too often face unfair trade barriers that make it difficult to stay competitive.  This bill will better identify trade obstacles so that American-grown specialty crops have fair access to foreign markets.”

“Oregon is world famous for our specialty crops, and products like blueberries and hazelnuts make up a significant portion of our state’s export economy.  Unfortunately, growers face many barriers to foreign markets, which limit their competitiveness,” said Bonamici. “The Specialty CROP Act will improve the USDA’s existing specialty crops trade report to better translate its findings into meaningful action and policy.  I’m pleased to introduce this important bipartisan legislation with Senator Wyden and several colleagues in the House and Senate.”

Legislation improvements

The legislation will help farmers by making key improvements to the annual U.S. Specialty Crops Trade Issues Report, in order to more effectively identify and combat unreasonable trade barriers, including to:

  • Explicitly require participation and engagement from the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR)
  • Highlight specific trade barriers that limit the export competitiveness of specialty crops in specific markets, including tariff and non-tariff barriers
  • Include an assessment of whether each trade barrier is subject to a U.S. FTA or international agreement
  • Include specific information with respect to actions taken, or expected to be taken, by the U.S. government to address or resolve each trade barrier
  • Require a request for comment from both the public and the Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee (ATAC) for Trade in Fruits and Vegetables
  • Require the report to be made public, while allowing for a classified annex in order to protect U.S. national security and economic strategy
  • Continue to define “specialty crop” as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.

Read a one-page summary of the bill here. The text is available on line here.

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