The following is a press release from the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, of which WineAmerica is a member.
WASHINGTON, D.C – In a letter to Capitol Hill, The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (the Alliance) encouraged the House of Representatives and the Senate to pass the conference report for the Agricultural Act of 2014. The Alliance represents more than 120 specialty crop organizations from across the country.
The Alliance applauded the conference report and leadership of the House and Senate Agriculture Committee as, “The most significant government investment ever into the competitiveness of specialty crop producers and industry members, with support for research, pest and disease prevention, state block grants, child nutrition, trade, and more.”
The Farm Bill conference report includes an overall increase in investment of 55 percent over 2008 Farm Bill funding levels in critical produce industry initiatives and programs, including the State Block Grant Program, Specialty Research Initiative, a new fruit and vegetable incentive grant program for SNAP recipients, the pest and disease prevention program along with maintaining funding in the Market Access Program and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program.
“The Alliance has been steadfast in urging Congress to pass a five-year Farm Bill that continues a strong investment in specialty crop agriculture,” said Alliance Co-Chair Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association. “We appreciate the dedicated efforts of the House and Senate agriculture committee leadership in bringing forward a bill that will put more nutritious produce in schools, provide critical research funding to fight citrus greening and other invasive plant pests and diseases, and help us to expand markets for our crops. Along with key reforms, this bill includes programs that will allow farmers to continue to put safe, healthful fruits and vegetables on Americans’ tables.”
Alliance Co-Chair John Keeling, executive vice president & CEO of National Potato Council, agrees. “After years of effort, America’s fruit and vegetable growers are eager for a farm bill thatsupports producers, helps families put healthy meals on their tables, and assists local economies in retaining and growing jobs. We look forward to this final vote so that specialty crop producers can get back to what they do best: growing high-quality fruits and vegetables for America and the world,” said Keeling.
Alliance Co-Chair Tom Nassif, CEO & president of Western Growers Association explains that the federal government is an important partner for change. “The federal government becomes an invaluable partner in food production when it invests in science and research that increases food safety, reduces our dependence on natural resources, increases the consumption of fresh produce and provides healthy, fresh snacks to those children least able to afford them,” said Nassif.
On Wednesday, the Agriculture Act of 2014 will be brought before the House of Representatives for a final vote. Then later this week, the Senate will also bring the Farm Bill up for a final vote before sending it to the President for his signature.
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance is a national coalition of more than 120 organizations representing growers of fruits, vegetables, dried fruit, tree nuts, nursery plants and other products. The alliance was established to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop agriculture and improve the health of Americans by broadening the scope of U.S. agricultural public policy. For more information, visit www.strongeragriculture.org.