This entry includes establishments primarily engaged in the production of vegetables and melons in the open, including asparagus, beans, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, celery, sweet corn, cucumber, green peas, lettuce, onions, peppers, squash, and tomatoes.
Other Vegetable (except Potato) and Melon Farming
Of the produce included in this category, tomatoes, onions, and iceberg lettuce led per capita consumption, as well as vegetable cash receipts, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Vegetables and fruits (truck farm products) are the second largest food group in the United States by volume and consumption, behind milk and dairy products. California, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and New York are the largest truck farming states. Produce is sold directly to processors, wholesalers, retailers, or consumers by truck farmers. Large truck farms usually specialize in one or two crops for shipment to the rest of the country, while smaller farms may grow a large variety for sale at local farmers' markets, stands, and stores. Smaller farms may also market their produce together through a cooperative in order to negotiate better prices.
Truck farms developed as people moved to cities and could no longer grow their own produce. With the building of railroads and highways, and the development of refrigerated transportation, truck farmers were able to ship their produce farther. Trucks and trains could carry out-of-season produce to the north from truck farms in the south.
Truck farmers in the United States have had to contend with periodic scares regarding the safety of fruits and vegetables. Various consumer and environmental groups claimed that too many pesticides, fungicides, and other chemicals were used on crops. Government agencies and industry groups, however, have insisted the food supply is safe and any chemical residue is well within government limits. Domestic growers have also defended their produce from fears about contaminated imports. Because produce is integrated into stores, usually without differentiation between foreign and domestic products, domestic growers have been concerned their produce would be affected by any suspicion about the quality of the imported goods.
In 1992 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new rules requiring employers to protect farm workers from pesticide poisoning, although these...