Specialty crops including fresh fruits and vegetables have historically come a distant second to commodity crops when it comes to their treatment in U.S. agricultural policy, but that began to shift in 2002 when Congress created the first block grants for specialty crop research. Fresh fruit and vegetable consumption is on track to rise as much as 27% between 2000 and 2020, according to the Agriculture Department, and the shift in policy reflects the increasingly important role fresh produce plays in the American diet.

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