President Barack Obama signs the 2014 farm bill Feb. 7 in East Lansing, Mich.
President Barack Obama signs the 2014 farm bill Feb. 7 in East Lansing, Mich.

President Barack Obama signed the 2014 farm bill in a Feb. 7 ceremony at Michigan State University.

The signing ceremony was attended by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, the farm bill’s lead Senate author and chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, growers, agriculture advocates and conservation leaders, according to a news release from Stabenow’s office.

The legislation will reduce the deficit by $23 billion, repeals the direct payment for program crops and boosts crop insurance tools, according to the release.

Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy for United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C., was among those invited to the attend the East Lansing signing ceremony.

Though the farm bill process was difficult and long, specialty crop programs received consistent support from Democrats and Republicans in both the House and the Senate, he said.

“Over the past five years we have been able to demonstrate the strong return on investment our programs have been to specialty crop producers,” Guenther said Feb. 6.

Some highlights of the farm bill:

  • Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops – $9 million per year;
  • Market Access Program – $200 million per year;
  • Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – $150 million per year;
  • At least five states will offer canned, frozen, and dried, produce through the fresh fruit and vegetable program with an evaluation due to Congress on Jan. 1, 2015;
  • Healthy Incentives Program – $100 million program (over five years) for programs to increase fresh produce purchases by SNAP participants;
  • Value-added grants – Mandatory funding at $63 million;
  • Specialty Crop Research Initiative – $80 million per year. From 2014-18 $25 million a year goes to fight citrus greening;
  • Specialty Crop Block Grants – includes $72.5 million 2014-17 and $85 million in 2018;
  • Farmers Market Promotion Program – $30 million per year; and
  • Plant Pest and Disease Program – $62.5 million 2014-17 and $75 million in 2018.