Lawmakers launch caucus to defend specialty crops

By Marc Heller | 04/16/2024 06:24 AM EDT

Group members are making a late-hour push for a bigger role in the farm bill.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.).

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) said a new caucus he's leading will seek farm bill money for specialty crops. Andrew Harnik/AP

Members of the House Agriculture Committee are scrounging to find money to boost specialty crops like vegetables and nuts in the still-delayed farm bill, a top committee Democrat said.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) said in a conference call last week that specialty crop programs need to be expanded in the five-year legislation, the first mission of a new House caucus he and others have launched. But the tight financial outlook for the bill continues to put up challenges ahead of a potential markup by Memorial Day.

“It’s my hope that we do better than we did in the last farm bill,” Costa said, referring to the 2018 legislation that nonetheless built on specialty crop programs from previous farm bills.


Costa and Reps. David Valadao (R-Calif.) and Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) touted the crops as they announced the creation of the bipartisan specialty crops caucus. Their respective states are national leaders in various fruits and vegetables, including cherries in Michigan and a wide variety of salad greens and other crops in California.