By now, the fact that the Farm Bill passed both the House and the Senate, and that lawmakers appear to have enough votes to override the recent veto by President Bush, is old news. What some may not know are the details on how the new Farm Bill will benefit vegetable growers. Here are some of the highlights as detailed in the Specialty Crop Farm Bill conference report.
- $1.02 billion: Expands the Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Snack Program to all 50 states. The nationwide expansion of the Snack Program will develop healthy eating habits for children by providing fresh fruits and vegetables in schools.
- $466 million: Enhances funding for “Specialty Crop Block Grants” that focus on local efforts to enhance producers’ ability to compete in the marketplace and provide consumers with safe, abundant food.
- $377 million: Creates a new Pest and Disease Program that will target invasive pests and disease. This program will be a joint collaborative effort between the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services and state departments of agriculture.
- $250 million: Provides the Department of Defense Fresh Program (partnering with USDA) a unique program to purchase and deliver fresh fruits and vegetable to schools.
- $230 million: Establishes the Specialty Crop Research Initiative to develop and disseminate science-based tools to address the needs of specific crops and their regions. Research priorities include food safety, mechanization, genetics, plant breeding, and pests and diseases.
- $59 million: Enhances critical trade assistance and market promotion tools that will grow international markets for specialty crops.