On April 27, members of the House of Representatives’ Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research heard testimony from witnesses including United Fresh member Maureen Torrey, Vice President of Torrey Farms of Elba, NY. Maureen, whose diversified operation produces crops such as cabbage, onions and squash, in addition to a dairy operation, joined her fellow panelists to testify on the topic of factors that impact the cost of production.
The hearing, chaired by Rep. Rodney Davis (Ill-13th), is one of a series being held by the House Agriculture Committee intended to summarize the current state of agriculture as Congress prepares to write the next Farm Bill. Representing the grower’s perspective, Maureen acknowledged there are many factors that affect a producer’s bottom line, but highlighted a few specific issues: labor, food safety regulations, specialty crop Farm Bill programs and crop protection product regulations. Maureen urged the members of the subcommittee to work with their colleagues on improving the federal government’s current agriculture guestworker program known as H-2A, but also to take action on comprehensive reform of America’s immigration system. She updated them on the work the produce industry is doing with the FDA on implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and thanked the committee members for their work in passing a strong specialty crop component of the Farm Bill, which dedicated resources to important sector needs such as research, pest and plant disease management and trade. Finally, in a follow up to meetings held by growers and industry representatives on Capitol Hill the previous week, Maureen expressed support for efforts to ensure that crop protection products that have been proven to be safe and effective remain available to producers.