Senators Applauded On Farm Bill Support

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance today applauded a letter signed by 32 senators calling for a 2012 Farm Bill that will build on previous specialty crop investments. In the letter to Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), the senators said the specialty crop programs established in the 2008 Farm Bill generated significant benefits for consumers, producers, and farm communities.
The letter notes that investments in the 2008 Farm Bill included “research, invasive pest and disease mitigation, foreign market development, nutrition, and targeted state-level funding for local initiatives. This translated into job creation, trade expansion, infrastructure investment for capacity building, targeted research for new innovations and technology, and increased access for fruits and vegetables in federal nutrition programs.”
The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) 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.
John Keeling, National Potato Council Executive VP and CEO, and SCFBA co-chair, welcomed the support from the bipartisan group. “As Congress sets the nation’s agriculture policy for the next four years, the health of our citizens and the health of our economy are at stake. We need sustained programs that put more fruits and vegetables on Americans’ plates, enhance our industry’s efforts to fight invasive pests and diseases, and help us to market our crops domestically and globally.”
The SCFBA submitted a comprehensive package of policy and program proposals to the U.S. Senate and House agriculture committees. Given the budget constraints facing Congress, no new programs were suggested; however, the alliance recommended refining and enhancing some existing programs that were established in the 2008 Farm Bill.
“In 2008, Congress recognized for the first time the tremendous contributions specialty crops make to U.S. agriculture and the health of all Americans. Since then, these programs have helped develop improved varieties, promote market access, and ensure the safety of our products. At a time when Americans are being called on to eat more fruits and vegetables, specialty crop producers need these resources to meet the demands of an increasingly health conscious population,” said SCFBA co-chair Mike Stuart, president of the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association.
The specialty crop industry is also urging Congress to pass the 2012 Farm Bill before the current law expires in September. If the current Farm Bill is temporarily extended, several important specialty crop programs, including the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Clean Plant Network will lose funding.
“The resources made available in this bill will go far to help develop better ways to grow, distribute and safeguard nutritious food Americans need for good health,” said SCFBA co-chair Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. “This is not just a bill for or about farmers. The resources invested contribute to a better public health policy that will positively impact and improve the way Americans eat.”
The SCFBA said it appreciates the leadership of Senator Michael Crapo (R-Idaho) and Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in building support for the letter, the text of which follows.

Dear Chairwoman Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts:
We are writing to urge you to build on the strong foundation the 2008 Farm Bill created for specialty crop producers across the country. Specialty crops represent approximately one-half of U.S. cash crop receipts and are of great significance to both farmers and consumers. It seems clear that the 2012 Farm Bill is likely to dramatically restructure federal agriculture spending. During consideration of these significant changes to spending we hope that you will actively consider both the needs of specialty crop producers and the market oriented structure of the programs that were a part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Congress recognized the importance of specialty crops in the 2008 Farm Bill by focusing mandatory resources for specialty crop producers around key policy priorities including research, invasive pest and disease mitigation, foreign market development, nutrition, and targeted state-level funding for local initiatives. This translated into job creation, trade expansion, infrastructure investment for capacity building, targeted research for new innovations and technology, and increased access for fruits and vegetables in federal nutrition programs. It is clear from the successes of the 2008 Farm Bill that government investment in the competitiveness and sustainability of the U.S. specialty crop industry will produce healthy results for all of America, not just farmers.
As the Senate Agriculture Committee continues its deliberations on the 2012 Farm Bill, we urge you to continue all current investments and build on them where possible. These programs have helped drive investment and have enhanced specialty crop producers’ competitiveness throughout America. Most importantly, specialty crops are a critical and growing component of U.S. agriculture, deserving of full and equal consideration as other agricultural sectors in the Farm Bill.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-HI
Sen. Michael Bennet, D-CO
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-NM
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA
Sen. Scott Brown, R-MA
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-WA
Sen. Thomas Carper, D-DE
Sen. Bob Casey, D-PA
Sen. Susan Collins, R-ME
Sen. Chris Coons, D-DE
Sen. Michael Crapo, R-ID
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-HI
Sen. John Kerry, D-MA
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ
Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-CT
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR
Sen. Patty Murray, D-WA
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-FL
Sen. Jack Reed, D-RI
Sen. Jim Risch, R-ID
Sen. Bernard Sanders, I-VT
Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY
Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-ME
Sen. Mark Udall, D-CO
Sen. Tom Udall, D-NM
Sen. Mark Warner, D-VA
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR



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2 comments on “Senators Applauded On Farm Bill Support

  1. Everyone needs to notice the lack of Republican support, if your Senator hasn't signed on it is important to try to get them to do this. Don't allow your representatives to turn this into a political issue.

  2. More welfare. What are we saying with this bill? American farmers are not capable of being successfull without help from the government. Sad.

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