GFVGA Executive Director Hoping for New Farm Bill by End of First Quarter

Clint Thompson Georgia

Photo by Clint Thompson/Chris Butts speaks during the Georgia Farm Bureau meeting last December.

By Clint Thompson

A new farm bill could be introduced sooner rather than later. At least, that’s the hope shared by Chris Butts, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA).

“We are hopeful that you may see some texts in the latter part of the first quarter, February-March. We’re hopeful on that,” Butts said. “If you ask 10 different people, you’ll get 10 different answers right now. I think Congress needs to understand that, yeah we extended the farm bill through the year, but conditions have changed since the last farm bill was written. Growers have different needs. In order to meet those needs, we need to get that bill across the finish line before the election.”

Specialty Crop Needs

Fruit and vegetable growers have multiple needs that Butts hopes are addressed in the newest edition of the farm bill. They revolve around the two most pressing needs Butts’ producers are trying to overcome to no avail; labor and trade.

“Lots of good initiatives came out of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill alliance which GFVGA participates in, with a big focus on mechanization and automation. They can help us work more efficiently, help us do more and help the workers that we have produce more,” Butts said. “A lot of focus on mechanization, specialization, research that needs to come along to develop new varieties that are more compatible to mechanical harvesting.

“There are lots of research needs, but for Georgia growers in particular, we still need to address the seasonal issue and provide price support for those growers if and when imports crash prices for our growers domestically.”