Action Alert
Add your name to support specialty farmers


Tell the USDA to support regenerative agriculture for specialty producers. Add your name to this letter to provide feedback on the USDA’s Specialty Crop Competitiveness Initiative by 12:00 PM ET on Friday, March 8.

We, The American Sustainable Business Network’s Regenerative Agriculture and Justice Working Group and the undersigned businesses and organizations, thank the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the opportunity to share our insights into how USDA can support a robust and competitive specialty crop industry.

Current policy heavily favors the cultivation of commodity crops, and neglects the importance of specialty crops1 for preventing disease and maintaining overall health. The USDA’s lack of support poses a threat to specialty crop farmers who face increasingly risky conditions due to increasingly extreme weather events, food safety risks, and volatile market prices.

The greater incentive to grow cash crops such as corn and soybeans makes it increasingly difficult for American specialty crop farmers to operate under our present market conditions. As a result, fruit and vegetable acreage in the U.S. has been on the decline for the past decade. This decline leads to a greater reliance on imported produce, which drives down prices, makes U.S. producers less competitive, and leaves our supply chains more vulnerable to international disturbances.

Supporting regenerative agriculture in the specialty crop market presents a path forward that will ensure the continued security and prosperity of American agriculture and food systems. Regenerative agriculture utilizes practices that bolster soil health, water quality, and biodiversity, fostering on-farm resilience to extreme weather events and decreased reliance on costly external inputs like pesticides and fertilizers. This approach leads to improved water retention, minimized crop losses during flooding and droughts, lower on-farm costs and increased yields.

Support for regenerative agriculture achieves two major goals: It allows American businesses to meet consumer demand for ethically produced goods, and also positions the U.S. market favorably for rapid growth over the next decade. As the global Regenerative Agriculture Market is projected to reach $32 billion by 2031, prioritizing regenerative practices in the specialty crop market is crucial for maintaining competitiveness on the international stage.

However, farmers – especially specialty crop farmers – face barriers to adopting regenerative practices. These barriers include lack of access to financial support, a shortage of technical assistance, and missing essential infrastructure such as sufficient aggregators, processors, manufacturers, and quality controls.

Specialty crop farmers need better access to risk protection, and the crops covered must reflect the wide range of ethnic and culturally valued crops in the U.S. Specifically, crop lists for both Crop Insurance and the Farm Service Agency Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) need to be expanded, with coverage reflecting the actual prices producers get. Farmers also need expanded insurance for organic and regenerative products.

The USDA’s programs have long excluded farmers from historically discriminated against communities, as well as beginning and small-scale farmers. The continuation of the USDA Risk Management Building Resiliency in Disadvantaged Communities pilot project will begin to address this discrimination by training and certifying a more diverse workforce of crop insurance agents and adjusters.

Specific specialty crop supply chains are further impacted by the need to support germplasm development through propagation (i.e,. tree crop species that are not grown from seed). Producers need investment into research on improving propagation and breed development in order to further strengthen supply chains for these species and improve supply availability.

We thank USDA for the opportunity to share the insights and lived experiences of farmers and advocates for a fair, healthy, and sustainable food system. We encourage the Department to act swiftly on these recommendations on behalf of our nation’s farmers, eaters, and rural communities.