New bill would improve USDA’s TAP Program

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House to expand support for specialty crop growers impacted by disasters.

Bill sponsor Congressman Bill Huizenga of Michigan tells Brownfield the Protecting America’s Orchardists and Nursery Tree Growers Act would improve the USDA’s Tree Assistance Program.

“Whether it’s income limits, we’re making sure that as long as you hit that 75% of your income is farm derived you qualify, covering more damage, having some greater flexibility,” he expands.

Huizenga says the program has the potential to help growers impacted by emerging pests like gall wasps or spotted winged drosophila.

“If we can come up with a varietal that is more pest resistant, it would make sense to shift,” he says.  “That hopefully is going to be the case, we’ll be watching that specific example very closely.”

The TAP program provides financial assistance to growers to replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes, and vines damaged by natural disasters, disease, and infestations.

Huizenga is spending part of his August recess meeting with farmers and processors to hear more about their issues.

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