WASHINGTON, DC—The 2007 Farm Bill was recently passed into law by Congress overriding President Bush’s veto. As a result of the partnership and collective lobbying efforts of the National Turfgrass Federation (NTF) and the Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) in Washington, DC last year, the 2007 Farm Bill contains turfgrass specific language.
The turfgrass industry fared well on three levels: First, the National Turfgrass Research Initiative (NTRI) is included in the Farm Bill Title VII (Research) as a High Priority Research Initiative. This inclusion of NTRI further recognizes the importance of turfgrass research at the federal government level and will lead to an increase in basic turfgrass research. For more information go to: http://agriculture.house.gov/inside/Legislation/110/FB/Conf/CRlang.pdf (see page 351).
Secondly, a Specialty Crops Research Initiative was developed, with total funding of $230 Million over 5 years. Congress also authorized $500 Million total, which means Congress could choose to appropriate more than the $230 Million already allocated. (See the link above pages 360-362). To further this effort, Congress directed the Secretary of Agriculture to consider turfgrass sod as a specialty crop in the Farm Bill. Therefore, turfgrass researchers will be eligible to compete for funding through the Specialty Crops Research Initiative. The language defining turfgrass as a specialty crop can be found here: http://agriculture.house.gov/inside/Legislation/110/FB/Conf/statement_of_managers.pdf (see page 240).
Finally, since turfgrass sod is now considered a specialty crop, turfgrass sod producers can apply for Specialty Crop Marketing Grants through their states. The program provides block grants to states to support projects in research, marketing, education, pest and disease management, production, and food safety. Through Title X of the bill, Congress mandated funding of $10 million this fiscal year, $49 million in fiscal year 2009 and $55 million for each of fiscal years 2010 through 2012 for this program. More information on the Specialty Crops Grants can be found here: http://agriculture.house.gov/inside/Legislation/110/FB/Conf/CRlang.pdf (see pages 457-458), as well as http://agriculture.house.gov/inside/Legislation/110/FB/Conf/statement_of_managers.pdf (see pages 239- 240).
The National Turfgrass Federation (NTF) is a 501(c)6 non-profit that represents many national turfgrass associations at the federal level. NTF is dedicated to informing Congress and the federal government of the value of the turfgrass industry, its issues and needs, and to increase federal dollars for turfgrass research. More information on NTF can be found on their web site, www.turfresearch.org.
Turfgrass Producers International (TPI) is an independent, not-for-profit association comprised of more than 1,100 turfgrass sod and seed producers, equipment manufacturers, suppliers, and other professionals involved in turfgrass-related education and research. As a worldwide association TPI is committed to the advancement of the turfgrass industry through improved practices, turfgrass-related research that enhances our environment and through the education of its members, green industry professionals, government officials and end-users. More information on TPI can be found at www.TurfGrassSod.org.