Recently I held a poll about what folks would like to see more of on this here blog. One of the winners was specialty crops. I found this interesting, as I didn’t clarify the crop as being animal or plant, but also because it’s one of the areas I know least about. Granted, having raised rabbits, I’ve been a “specialty producer” in the past. However, that led me to wonder, “What defines a specialty crop?”
Is it something we don’t encounter in everyday life? Is it something we do, and take for granted? Just out of curiosity, I Googled “speciality crops” and the first result was to the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. Their definition goes as follows:
The Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 have defined specialty crops as “fruits and vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).” Eligible plants must be intensively cultivated and used by people for food, medicinal purposes, and/or aesthetic gratification to be considered specialty crops. Processed products shall constitute greater than 50% of the specialty crop by weight, exclusive of added water.A detailed definition of specialty crops was also developed for the purposes of this program and other U.S. Department of Agriculture programs.The tables below list plants commonly considered fruits and tree nuts, vegetables, culinary herbs and spices, medicinal plants, as well as nursery, floriculture, and horticulture crops. There is also a separate list of ineligible commodities. These lists are not intended to be all inclusive, but rather to provide examples of the most common specialty crops. This web page will be updated as U.S. Department of Agriculture receives new questions about the eligibility of various crops.