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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Praising bipartisan legislation that takes a critical step to achieving a more equitable Farm Bill, the United Fresh Produce Association commended the U.S. Senate for passing the Food, Energy & Security Act of 2007, the Senate's version of the Farm Bill, which includes unprecedented advances in funding and policy priorities for the fruit and vegetable industry.
"The action by the U.S. Senate represents another victory in recognizing the importance of specialty crops in national farm policy," said Robert Guenther, United Fresh's s.v.p./public policy. "This Farm Bill bolsters the competitive standing of our industry in today's global marketplace, and helps launch the next generation of children on a lifetime of healthier eating."
Guenther said United Fresh "strongly encourages" quick action by Congress "to appoint a conference committee so differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill can be worked out in an efficient and fair manner," Guenther said.
United Fresh, serving as the secretariat, has helped spearhead the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 specialty crop organizations, which was instrumental in generating Congressional support to advance produce industry priorities.
Among the fruit and vegetable industries' priorities included in the Senate Farm Bill:
- Expansion of the USDA Fruit & Vegetable Snack Program to more than 4.5 million schoolchildren across all 50 states. The program will be a cornerstone of public health efforts to help children develop a life-long healthier lifestyle through consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Expansion of Specialty Crop Competitiveness projects focused on regional and local priorities for specialty crop producers. The projects have been successful in improving food safety, investing in infrastructure, enhancing market opportunities and supporting research aimed at specific industry needs.
- Investment in prevention and mitigation protocols to combat invasive plant pests and diseases, which cost the economy millions of dollars per year and threaten the future of many fruit and vegetable commodities.
- Enhanced critical trade assistance and market promotion tools that will grow international markets for specialty crops.
- Significant new investment in research to improve the safety, quality, affordability and access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Guenther said United Fresh and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance will continue to work with House and Senate leadership as the Farm Bill now advances to conference.