"Over the last decade, there has been a growing U.S. trade deficit in fresh and processed fruits and vegetables. Although U.S. fruit and vegetable exports totaled more than $7 billion in 2011, U.S. imports of fruits and vegetables exceeded $18 billion, resulting in a gap between imports and exports of $11.2 billion (excludes nuts and processed nut products). This trade deficit has widened over time--despite the fact that U.S. fruit and vegetable exports have continued to rise each year--because growth in imports has greatly outpaced export growth. As a result, the United States has gone from being a net exporter of fresh and processed fruits and vegetables in the early 1970s to being a net importer of fruits and vegetables today. […] Historically, fruit and vegetable crops have not benefitted from the federal farm support programs traditionally included in the farm bill, compared to the long-standing support provided to the main program commodities (such as grains, oilseeds, cotton, sugar, and milk). The 2008 farm bill provided additional support for specialty crop programs, as well as organic programs. The farm bill also reauthorized two programs intended to address existing trade barriers and marketing of U.S. specialty crops, including (1) USDA's [U.S. Department of Agriculture] Market Access Program (MAP) promote domestic agricultural exports, including specialty crops and organic agriculture; and (2) Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC) to address sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) and technical barriers to U.S. exports."
CRS Report for Congress, RL34468