Specialty Crops



Specialty crops are gaining attention across the agricultural spectrum with the increased number of provisions addressing specialty crop issues in the Food Conservation and Energy Act (2008 Farm Bill). The statutory definition of the term is wide-ranging, including fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and vegetables, horticulture, and nursery crops. In practice, however, the term “specialty crops” is generally used to describe all crops except those commodities that receive direct income support under Title I of the 2008 Farm Bill. Read the full overview

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes


Plant Protection Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 7701-7786
Plant Variety Protection Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2321-2583
Plant Patent Act, 35 U.S.C. §§ 161-164

Checkoff Programs

Floral Research and Consumer Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 4301-4319
Fresh Cut Flowers and Fresh Cut Greens Promotion and Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6801-6814
Hass Avocado Promotion, Research, and Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 7801-7813
Honey Research, Promotion, and Consumer Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 4601-4613
Lime Research, Promotion, and Consumer Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6201-6212
Mushroom Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6101-6112
National Kiwifruit Research, Promotion, and Consumer Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 7461-7473
Pecan Promotion and Research Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6001-6013
Popcorn Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 7481-7491
Potato Research and Consumer Information Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 2611-2627
Watermelon Research and Promotion Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 4901-4916

County of Origin Labeling (COOL)

Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1621-1638d
COOL Provisions, 7 U.S.C. §§ 1638-1638d
COOL Provision from the 2008 Farm Bill

Farm Bills

Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018

Highlights and Implications of the 2018 Farm Bill on Specialty Crops
Agricultural Trade Promotion Program, 7 CFR § 1489
Emergency Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program,7 CFR § 3430.209
Specialty Crops Coordinator, 7 U.S.C. § 1507(g)
Urban, Indoor, and Other Emerging Agricultural Production Research, Education, and Extension Initiative, 7 U.S.C. § 5925g

Agricultural Act of 2014

Highlights and Implications of the 2014 Farm Bill on Specialty Crops
Local Food Production and Program Evaluation, 7 U.S.C. § 2204h
Pilot Project for Canned, Frozen, or Dried Fruits and Vegetables, 42 U.S.C. § 1769a note
Pilot Project for Procurement of Unprocessed Fruits and Vegetables, 42 U.S.C. § 1755(f)

Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008

Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, 42 U.S.C. § 1769a
Planting Flexibility Restrictions and Pilot Programs, 7 U.S.C. § 8717
Specialty Crop Research Initiative, 7 U.S.C. § 7632
Specialty Crops Market News Allocation, 7 U.S.C. § 1622b
Food Safety Education Initiatives, 7 U.S.C. § 7655a

Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 

Program Payment Planting Restrictions, 7 U.S.C. § 7916
Production Flexibility Contracts Planting Restrictions, 7 U.S.C. § 7218
Purchase of Specialty Crops, 7 U.S.C. § 612c-4
Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC), 7 U.S.C. § 5623(e)

Marketing, Research, and Promotion Programs

Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, 7 U.S.C. §§ 601-614
Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, 7 U.S.C. §§ 671-674
Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946, 7 U.S.C. § 1621 et seq.
Commodity Promotion, Research, and Information Act of 1996, 7 U.S.C. §§ 7411-7425
Farmer-to-Consumer Direct Marketing Act of 1976, 7 U.S.C. §§ 3001 – 3007
Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, 7 U.S.C. § 3007
Specialty Crops Competitive Act of 2004, 7 U.S.C § 1621
Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, 7 U.S.C. §§ 499a-499t
Produce Agency Act, 7 §§ U.S.C. 491-497



Plant Variety and Protection Regulations, 7 C.F.R. §§ 97.1-97.900
Genetically Engineered Plant Pest Regulations, 7 C.F.R. §§ 340.0-340.9
Plant Incorporated Protectant Regulations, 40 C.F.R. §§ 174.1-174.485

Checkoff Programs

Fruits Vegetables Nuts, 7 C.F.R. Parts 900-999
Fruits Imports Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Part 944
Vegetables Import Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Part 980
Specialty Crops Import Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Part 999
Miscellaneous Commodities (Includes Several Specialty Crops), 7 C.F.R. Parts 1200-1291

Country of Origin Labeling

Food Safety Inspection Service Imported Products Labeling Regulations,9 C.F.R. §§ 327.14-327.15
United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Country of Origin Marking Regulations, 19 C.F.R. §§ 134.0-134.55

Marketing Orders

Marketing Agreements and Orders: Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, 7 C.F.R. Parts 900-999
Marketing Agreements and Orders: Miscellaneous Commodities (Includes Several Specialty Crops), 7 C.F.R. Parts 1200-1291

Marketing Research and Promotion

Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Other Products (Inspection, Certification, and Standards), 7 C.F.R. Part 51
Processed Fruits and Vegetables, Processed Products Thereof, and Certain Other Processed Food Products, 7 C.F.R. Part 52
Specialty Crops Block Grant Program-Farm Bill, 7 C.F.R. Part 1291
Specialty Crops Research Initiative, 7 C.F.R. §§ 3430.200-3430.209

Market Development Programs

Rules of Practice for Disciplinary Proceedings, 7 C.F.R. §§ 1.130-1.151
Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Regulations (PACA), 7 C.F.R. §§ 46.1-46.49
Rules of Practice under PACA 7 C.F.R. §§ 47.1-47.49
Enforcement of the Produce Agency Act, 7 C.F.R. Part 48/
Trade Mitigation Program, 7 C.F.R. Part 1409
Programs to Help Develop Foreign Markets for Agricultural Commodities, 7 C.F.R. Part 1484
Grant Agreements for the Development of Foreign Markets for U.S. Agricultural Commodities, 7 C.F.R. Part 1485
Emerging Markets Programs, 7 C.F.R. Part 1486
Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Part 1487

Case Law

Case Law Index for Biotechnology
Case Law Index for Checkoff Programs
Case Law Index for Country of Origin Labeling (COOL)
Case Law Index for Local Food Systems
Case Law Index for Marketing Orders
Case Law Index for Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA)

Administrative Law Decisions

FDA Dockets Management
EPA Environmental Appeals Board
EPA Office of Administrative Law Judges
USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions (National AgLaw Center)
USDA National Appeals Division
USDA Office of the Administrative Law Judges
USDA Office of the Judicial Officer
U.S. Customs and Border Protection Rulings
U.S. International Trade Commission Investigations

Center Publications

Innovative State Approaches to Hemp Regulations Under the 2018 Farm Bill (Essman, 2020)
Industrial Hemp Laws: State-by-State (Ogle & R. Rumley, 2019)
State-Specific Direct Marketing Business Guides (National AgLaw Center & U. IL @Urbana)
Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act Factsheet (Pittman, 2012)
Food Safety and Specialty Crops (R. Rumley)
Agricultural Contracting (R. Rumley)
Food Labeling for Specialty Crop Producers (E. Rumley, 2012)
3rd Party Food Safety Audits of Specialty Crop Operators (Seideman and Rainey, 2012)
Crop Insurance for Edamame (R. Rumley, 2012)
Approval of Pesticides (R. Rumley, 2012)
Legal and Business Guide for Specialty Crop Producers (National AgLaw Center & U. AR Division of Agriculture)
General Legal Issues for Community Farmers Market Managers to Consider (Crocker)
The Farmer’s Legal Guide to Producer Marketing Associations (O’Brien, Hamilton & Luedeman)
Farmers’ Markets: Rules, Regulations, and Opportunities (Hamilton)
PACA Roundup: A Review of Recent Cases (Pittman)
PACA: The Statutory Trust and Its Application for Restaurants (Pittman)
Country of Origin Labeling (COOL): An Overview

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Farm Bills/Economic Stimulus
Farm Commodity Programs
International Agriculture

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal publications on Specialty Crops:

Farm Labor
Food and Drug Law
Fruits and Vegetables — Perishable Agricultural Commodities
Marketing Boards, Marketing Orders, Marketing Promotion, Marketing Quotas
Organizational Forms for Agriculture (Business Law and Development)
Sustainable and Organic Farming

Reference Resources

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

Country-of-Origin Labeling
Domestic Origin Verification Program
Fruit, Vegetable and Specialty Crop Purchasing Program
Fruits, Vegetables & Specialty Crop Audits
Farmers’ Market Promotion Program
Specialty Crops Marketing Orders and Agreements
Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee
Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program
Grading and Inspection Programs
Import/Export Certificates
Research and Promotion Programs
Tools for Fruit, Vegetable, and Specialty Crop Programs
Market News Portal: Specialty Crops
National Retail Report: Specialty Crops (Oct. 2020)
Plant Variety Protection Office
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
Specialty Crop Overview
Specialty Crops Terminal Markets Standard Reports
National Farmers Markets Directory

Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS)

Plant Health Import Information
Plant Health Export Information
Plant Imports and Exports Program
Emerging Challenges for Biotech Specialty Crops (Workshop Report, 2007)
Fruit and Vegetable Import Requirements Database (FAVIR, 2013)
Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the USDA
National Clean Plant Network (NCPN)
Criteria for New Specialty Crops Seeking NCPN Entry and Support

Agricultural Research Service (ARS)

Crop Production and Protection
Crop Protection and Quarantine Action Plan [2020-2025]
National Program 304: Crop Protection and Quarantine Annual Reports
Genetic Preservation of Specialty Crops
Methyl Bromide Alternatives Project
Research Projects by Subject
Specialty Crops Research Projects
Management of Temperate Adapted Fruit, Nut, and Specialty Crop Genetic Resources and Associated Information
Enhancing Specialty Crop Tolerance to Saline Irrigation Waters
Preserving the Genetic Variety of Valuable Specialty Crops (McGinnis, 2007)
Specialty Crops Vulnerability to Pests: IR-4 (Comis, 2007)
Specialty Crops Move Into the Spotlight (Schneider, 2007)
AgResearch Magazine

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables
State Indicator Reports on Fruits and Vegetables, 2018 (webpage)
State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2018 (.pdf)

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018: Specialty Crops
Briefing Room: Vegetables and Pulses
Briefing Room: Fruit and Tree Nuts
Local Agriculture Market Program  (LAMP)

Estimated Costs for Fruit and Vegetable Producers to Comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Rule (Bovay, 2018)
Sub-Saharan Africa is Projected to be the Leader in Global Rice Imports (Nigatu, 2017)
Specialty Crops Access to U.S. Markets: A Case Study of Indian Mangoes (Ferrier, 2012)
Price Trends are Similar for Fruits, Vegetables, and Snack Foods Kuchler, 2008)
Increased U.S. Imports of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables (Huang, 2007)
China’s Rising Fruit and Vegetable Exports Challenge U.S. Industries (Huang, 2006)
Eliminating Fruit and Vegetable Planting Restrictions: How Would Markets be Affected?(Johnson 2006)
Fruit and Vegetable Backgrounder (Lucier, 2006)

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Food Homepage
Guidance Documents and Regulatory Information
Guidance Document: Enforcement Policy for Entities Growing, Harvesting, Packing, or Holding Hops, Wine Grapes, Pulse Crops and Almonds (2019)
Guidance Document Draft: Guide to Minimize Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Produce (2018)
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
FSMA Final Rule on Produce Safety
Guidance Documents: Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (1998)
Guidance Documents: Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables (2008)
Irradiation of Food and Packaging

Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS)

Agricultural Trade Promotion Program
Commodities and Products
Fruits and Vegetables
Tree Nuts
Market Development Program
Foreign Market Development Program
Market Access Program 
Quality Samples Program
Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) Program
World Production, Markets, and Trade Reports 
Horticulture & Forestry

Food and Nutrition Service (FNS)

Food Distribution Programs and Services
Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (DoD Fresh)
Commodity Supplemental Food Program Eligibility
Availability of Fresh Produce in Nutrition Assistance Programs (2002)
Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Through the USDA Nutrition Assistance Programs (2008)

Food Safety.gov

Fresh Produce Safety
Fruit and Vegetable Juices

National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)

Crops and Plants 
Charts and Maps: Specialty Crops

National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Fruits and Veggies
Growing Herbs Selective Information Sources: 1996-2005 (Mazur, 2005)
List of Alternative Crops and Enterprises for Small Farm Diversification (Gold, 2008; updated Jan. 2020)
Sanitation and Quality Standards
Food Safety Research Information Office

National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics Programs
Adoption of Precision Agriculture
Research and Evaluation

Risk Management Agency (RMA)

Crop Policies
History of RMA
Bulletins and Memos
Insurance Plans Overview
Specialty Crops
Laws and Regulations
Report on Specialty Crop Insurance (2019)

U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 for Specialty Crop Producers
Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) (Rural Development Program)
Tree Assistance Program

Congressional Resources

USDA Market Facilitation Program: Oversight of Future Supplemental Assistance to farmers Could Be Improved (GAO-22-104259, 2022)
USDA Market Facilitation Program: Stronger Adherence to Quality Guidelines Would Improve Future Economic Analyses (GAO-22-468, 2021)
2018 Farm Bill Primer: Specialty Crops and Organic Agriculture (2019)
FDA Continues to Evaluate and Respond to Business Concerns about the Produce Rule (GAO-18-85, 2017)
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Home Page 
House Committee on Agriculture Home Page
Improvements Needed in FDA Oversight of Fresh Produce (GAO-081047, 2008)
Fruits and Vegetables: Enhanced Federal Efforts to Increase Consumption Could Yield Health Benefits for Americans (GAO-02-657, 2002)

Other Federal Resources

Ag Marketing Resource Center: Commodities & Products
National Clean Plant Network

International Resources

Australia Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment: Horticulture Policy
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Horticulture
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Pulses Industry Roundtable

European Commission

Fruits and Vegetables
European Commission: Common Agricultural Policy
Future of the common Agricultural Policy 2018
Food, Farming, Fisheries
Fruits and Vegetables Legislation
Fruits and Vegetables: Reports
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP)
Global G.A.P.

Additional Resources

Association of Fruit and Vegetable Inspection and Standardization Agencies
California Specialty Crops Council
Citrus Research and Development Foundation
Colorado State University Specialty Crops Program
Florida Specialty Crop Foundation
Growing Produce
Guides for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers (UC Santa Cruz)
Haas Avocado Board
International Nut and Dried Fruit Council
Mushroom Council
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Policy Statement on Specialty Crops (2003)
National Good Agricultural Practices Program (Cornell University)
National Honey Board
National Watermelon Promotion board
N.C. Fresh Produce Safety (NC Extension)
Nebraska Extension Specialty Crops
North Carolina Specialty Crops Program
Popcorn Board
Potatoes U.S.A.
Specialty Crops Regulatory Assistance
Stewardship Index for Specialty Crops
United Fresh Produce Association
University of California Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center
University of California Small Farm Center
Urban Ag News
U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council


Guides for Beginning Specialty Crop Growers(UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology, 2021)
Specialty Crop Production in Practices for Beginning Farmers in Arizona and the Southwest (Schuch, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, 2018)
2018 Nebraska Dry Bean Variety Trials (Urrea, Nebraska Extension, 2019)
Midwest Vegetable Production guide for commercial Growers (University of Illinois Extension, 2019)
Perennial Fruit: New, Unusual, and Unique Crops for Northern Climates (McCamant, Minnesota Institute for sustainable Agriculture, 2018)
Understanding NOP Standards for Pest Management in Specialty Crops (Majumdar, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, 2018)
The Food Modernization Act What Every Texas Lawyer Should Know (Walsh, 2017)
Evaluation of the pilot Program for Canned, Frozen, or Dried Fruits and Vegetables in the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (Mathematica Policy Research, 2017)
Common Diseases of Tomatoes (Mississippi State University Extension, 2017)
Biodegradable Mulches for Specialty Crops Produced under Protective Covers (Inglis, Washington State University, 2013)
Pesticides for Specialty Crops (Fouche, UC Davis, 2000)
Establishing Land Use Protections for Farmers’ Markets (Public Health Law & Policy, 2009)
Understanding Farmers’ Rights to be Paid for Fruit and Vegetable Crops (Farmer’s Legal Action Group – FLAG, 2007)
Federal Law Protects Farmers’ Rights to be Paid for Fruit and Vegetable Contracts (FLAG, 2007)