November 14,2023

Wyden, Crapo Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Boost Exports of Fruit, Vegetables, Nuts and Other Specialty Crops

Bonamici and Valadao to Introduce House Companion to the Specialty Crops Reporting on Opportunities and Promotion Act

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Ranking Member Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, introduced legislation today to help farmers fight through trade barriers and sell more fruits, vegetables and other specialty crops in foreign markets. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., and Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich., will introduce the House companion legislation.

The Specialty Crops Reporting on Opportunities and Promotion Act (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. 

“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,” Wyden said. “Our bipartisan bill will help rural Americans by identifying unfair foreign trade barriers and creating specific plans to cut through that red tape.”  

“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,” Crapo said. "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 bill is cosponsored by Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

“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,” Bonamici said. “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.”

“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.”

“Specialty crops – fruits, vegetables, nuts, and more – are vital to Michigan’s economy and to the livelihoods of the farmers that grow them,” said Slotkin. “That’s why I’m co-leading the Specialty CROP Act. This bipartisan bill will help growers access foreign markets, while also analyzing potential barriers to success – a straightforward, common-sense step that will support our agriculture community.”

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; and 
  • 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.” 

Statements of Support

“U.S. specialty crops are increasingly challenged in foreign markets by creative protectionist tariff and non-tariff barriers. The legislation championed by Senators Wyden and Crapo seeks to call out and identify remedies for these impediments as a first step in eliminating them on behalf of U.S. family farmers. We strongly support this commonsense effort to level the playing field,” said Kam Quarles, Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance Co-chair and National Potato Council CEO.

“Maintaining and expanding access to overseas markets is critical for apple, cherry, and pear growers in the Pacific Northwest. The legislation introduced by Senators Wyden and Crapo will help us understand the trade barriers in export markets and identify solutions to ensure growers remain competitive around the world,” said Mark Powers, President, Northwest Horticultural Council.

"The North American Blueberry Council applauds Senators Wyden and Crapo for introducing the ‘The Specialty Crops Reporting on Opportunities and Promotion Act (Specialty CROP Act).’  The global demand for blueberries continues to increase year-over-year. However, technical barriers and high tariff rates put U.S. blueberry producers at a competitive disadvantage in key export markets. This bill will not only help identify specific barriers affecting specialty crops, but also encourage productive engagement between the industry, Administration, and Congress on real solutions that will drive the growth of U.S. specialty crop exports,”  said Kasey Cronquist, President, North American Blueberry Council. 

Read the text of the legislation here

Read a one-page summary of the bill here.