Western Growers and the rest of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) applauded the passage of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 (Farm Bill) in the U.S. Senate yesterday with a bipartisan vote of 66-27. The legislation addresses many of the critical priorities outlined by the SCFBA and continues the support of specialty crops that was established in the 2008 Farm Bill.
“We are very pleased by the strong vote in favor of the Farm Bill in the Senate,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers and co-chair of the Alliance. “This bill provides the specialty crop community with necessary resources such as funds for food safety enhancement, pest and disease intervention and eradication, and increased consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables that contribute to healthy diets. We hope that the House of Representatives moves expeditiously next week to likewise pass its version of a bill.”
The bill includes key specialty crop industry priorities such as research, pest and disease mitigation, as well as trade, nutrition, and other programs that help producers be competitive and meet the needs of American consumers. Highlights of the bill include:
- Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $70 million per year
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $25 million (FY2014); $30 million (FY2015-2016); $65 million (FY2017); $50 million (FY2018)
- Coordinated Plant Management Program funded at $60 million (FY2014-2017) and $65 million (FY2018)
- Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- Section 32 specialty crop purchases funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- DoD Fresh program fully funded at $50 million per year consistent with 2008 levels
The House Agriculture Committee approved its version of the Farm Bill on May 16. The full House is scheduled to consider the legislation the week of June 17.
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