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WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation today to help farmers fight through trade barriers and sell more fruits, vegetables, and other specialty crops in foreign markets.

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. 

“Idaho’s high-quality specialty crop growers face longstanding trade barriers, preventing these products from reaching consumers around the world,” said Risch. “The Specialty CROP Act will equip trade negotiators with the information needed to ensure Idaho’s agricultural industry continues to thrive.”

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

The bill is cosponsored by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Angus King (I-Maine).

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;
  • 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; and
  • Continue to define “specialty crop” as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture and nursery crops, including floriculture.”