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. §§ 7701-7772
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

Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008

Fruit and Vegetable Program, Sec. 4304
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. § 1622(b)
Food Safety Education Initiatives, 7 U.S.C. § 7655(a)

Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 7 U.S.C. § 3171

Program Payment Planting Restrictions, 7 U.S.C. § 7916
Production Flexibility Contracts Planting Restrictions, 7 U.S.C. § 7218
Purchase of Fresh Fruit and Vegetables for Distribution, 7 U.S.C. § 612c-4
Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC), 7 U.S.C. § 5680

Marketing, Research, and Promotion Programs

Agricultural Marketing Agreement Act of 1937, 7 U.S.C. §§ 601-614, 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
Farmers’ Market Promotion Program, 7 U.S.C. § 3005
Seniors Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program, 7 U.S.C. § 3007

Specialty Crops Competitive Act of 2004, 7 U.S.C § 1621

Note: Amended By the 2008 Farm Bill

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, 7 C.F.R. Part 1290
Specialty Crops Block Grant Program-Farm Bill, 7 C.F.R. Part 1291
Specialty Crops Research Initiative, 7 C.F.R. Part 3430

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 for Reparation Proceedings, 7 C.F.R. §§ 47.1-47.49
Enforcement of the Produce Agency Act, 7 C.F.R. Part 48
Programs to Help Develop Foreign Markets for Agricultural Commodities, 7 C.F.R. Part 1484
Cooperative Agreements for the Development of Foreign Markets for 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

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 (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)

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 Programs
Fruit, Vegetable and Specialty Crop Purchasing Program
Fruit and Vegetable Advisory Committee
Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program
Grading and Certification Programs
Import/Export Certificates
Research and Promotion Programs
Market News
Plant Variety Protection Office
Qualified Through Verification Program
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP)
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program & Specialty Crop Block Grant Program-Farm Bill (SCBGP & SCBGP-FB)
Wholesale and Farmer’s Markets

Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service

Plant Health
Import and Export
Plant Export Program
Plant Import
Emerging Challenges for Biotech Specialty Crops (Workshop Report, 2007)
Fruit and Vegetable Import Manual (2004)
Memorandum of Agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the USDA

Agricultural Research Service

Crop Production and Protection
Field Trials to Develop Data on Crop Protection Chemicals for Vegetable and Specialty Crops
Genetic Preservation of Specialty Crops
Methyl Bromide Alternatives Project
Specialty Crops Research Program
Specialty Crops Research Projects
Management of Temperate Adapted Fruit, Nut, and Specialty Crop Genetic Resources and Associated Information
Minor Use Pesticide Testing on Specialty Crops (IR-4)
Sustainable Cropping Systems for Irrigated Specialty Crops and Bio-fuels
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)

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Fruits and Veggies Matter
Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Data and Statistics (2013)

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Briefing Room: Dry Beans
Briefing Room: Fruit and Tree Nuts
Briefing Room: Potatoes
Farmers’ Market Promotion Program

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)

Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
FSMA Produce Safety Standards
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)

Irradiated Food and Packaging

Foreign Agricultural Service

Commodities and Products
Fruit and Vegetable Analysis
Tree Nuts Analysis
Export Programs
Market Development Program
Foreign Market Development Program
Market Access Program 
Quality Samples Program
Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) Program
Current World Production, Market, and Trade
U.S. Horticulture & Forestry

Food and Nutrition Service

Food Distribution Programs and Services
Department of Defense Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (DoD Fresh)
Food Distribution 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
Food Guidance Documents
Imported Foods
Fruit and Vegetable Juices

National Agricultural Statistics Service

Crops and Plants 
Charts and Maps: Specialty Crops

National Agricultural Library

Growing Herbs Selective Information Sources: 1996-2005 (Mazur, 2005)
List of Alternative Crops and Enterprises for Small Farm Diversification (Gold, 2008)
Sanitation and Quality Standards

National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Genomics
Precision Farming

Risk Management Agency (RMA)

Bulletins and Handbooks
Crop Policies
Crop Policies and Pilots
RMA Authorizing Acts and Statutes
Report on Specialty Crop Insurance (2004)

U. S. Department of Agriculture

Value-Added Producer Grants (VAPG) (Rural Development Program)
Specialty Crops Comment Summary and Background

Congressional Resources

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

National Clean Plant Network

International Resources

Australia Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry: Horticulture Policy
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Horticulture
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada – Pulses and Specialty Crops

European Union

Fruits and Vegetables
Market and Policy Reports
Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) Reform: Fruits and Vegetables
The Horticulture Sector in the European Union (2003)
Global G.A.P.

Additional Resources

National Association of State Departments of Agriculture Policy Statement on Specialty Crops (2003)
Association of Fruit and Vegetable Inspection and Standardization Agencies
California Specialty Crops Council
Florida Specialty Crop Foundation
Haas Avocado Board
International Nut and Dried Fruit Council
Mushroom Council
National Honey Board 
National Watermelon Promotion Board 
Popcorn Board
Specialty Crops Regulatory Assistance 
U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council
United Fresh Produce Association
United States Potato Board
Irradiation News (U. of MN, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy – CIDRAP)
Issue Brief: Food Irradiation and Public Health
Colorado State University Specialty Crops Program
Good Agricultural Practices Network for Education and Training (Cornell University)
GAPs at UC Davis
North Carolina Specialty Crops Program
University of California Fruit and Nut Research and Information Center
University of California Small Farm Center
N.C. Fresh Produce Safety (NC Extension)


The Food Modernization Act What Every Texas Lawyer Should Know (Walsh, 2017)

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)

Pesticides for Specialty Crops (Fouche, UC Davis, 2000)