Research was a popular topic among vegetable and specialty crop growers at the farm bill listening session in Gainesville, Florida, on June 24. One of these growers was Mike Bruorton, director of agricultural relations for Superior Berries Company and president of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Association.
Bruorton began his comments by acknowledging that there are several programs already in the farm bill that are extremely supportive of southeastern agriculture, but the biggest area of interest for specialty crop growers is research.
Bruorton praised the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), calling it a very important component of farm bill funding. “Research in specialty crops is growing in importance, and this growth will likely accelerate over the life of the next farm bill based on the needs from growers and the industry,” he said.
Bruorton went on to express his gratitude for the specialty crop research efforts that have been supported within the past few years. However, he noted that the specialty crop industry has been historically underserved by various general research governmental programs.
Over the next five years, Bruorton predicts there will be a need for more research for mechanization and other harvesting practices that will help relieve the difficulty of labor shortages. However, he recognized that more research also means more funding, and he hopes legislators will include that funding in the 2018 farm bill.
To conclude, Bruorton asked the House Agricultural Committee to consider increasing SCRI funding. “It is needed to keep our industry competitive and consumers supplied with fruits and vegetables,” he said. Bruorton also thanked the committee for planning a listening session in the Southeast because southeastern agriculture differs greatly from other regions in the United States.
If you could not attend the farm bill listening session in Gainesville, you can find a recording of it here.
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