Bill Preserves Funding for Critical Programs, Encourages Fresh Produce Consumption
United Fresh congratulates the Senate today
on the passage of the Agriculture Reform,
Food and Jobs Act of 2012 with a vote of 64-35. The passage comes after a
two-day consideration of more than 70 amendments, pared down from nearly 300
that were submitted. The bill addresses many priorities critical to United
Fresh members, including programs supporting essential research, market
promotion and nutrition, and continues their support of specialty crops that
was established in the 2008 Farm Bill.
â€śWe congratulate the Senate Agriculture
Committee and Senate Leadership for prioritizing this legislation which is so
important to the nationâ€™s produce providers,â€ť said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh
president and CEO. â€śThe bill supports fruits and vegetables in ways that will boost
consumption and help provide healthful options to Americans - through block
grants, nutrition programs and pest and disease research. Weâ€™re looking forward
to working with the House to preserve funding for these critical fruit and
The bill maintains 2008 levels of funding for
the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), a victory for the more than 3
million school children who receive a fresh fruit or vegetable snack from the
program each day. United helped to spearhead creation of the FFVP as an
effective way to improve child nutrition, promote consumption of fruits and
vegetables and encourage long-term healthy eating habits.
United is pleased by the Senateâ€™s acceptance of an amendment, sponsored by Sen.
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), which calls for a feasibility study of insurance
products that could cover recalls, quarantines and market disruptions.
â€śItâ€™s gratifying to see the Senate
Agriculture Committee and the full Senate show such strong support for these important
produce industry priorities,â€ť said Robert Guenther, Unitedâ€™s senior vice
president of public policy. â€śWe commend the Senate for maintaining their
support for programs important to the produce industry and moving through consideration
of the bill so quickly.â€ť
As a member of the
Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, United worked closely with senators and
produce industry stakeholders to secure support for several programs of
particular importance to the fresh fruit and vegetable industry. The nearly 1000-page bill passed by the Senate includes
key specialty crop industry priorities such as research, pest and disease
mitigation, trade, nutrition, and other programs that enhance the ability of
producers to 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 in FY13; $30 million in FY14-15; $65 million in FY16; $50 million in FY17
- Plant Pest and Disease Program funded at $60 million in FY13-16 and $65 million in FY17
- 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
- Hunger-Free Communities Grant Program for fruit and vegetable SNAP incentives
- Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program
- 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
â€śThe Senate has sent a strong signal to the House that this legislation deserves to be acted on quickly, and we encourage the House to move forward as soon as possible. United will continue to work with Congress to provide the produce industry perspective and raise awareness of the issues most important to our members,â€ť stated Guenther.
The House Agriculture Committee is expected to release their version of the bill in July.