2012 Farm Bill
The House Agriculture Committee approved its farm bill Thursday with a vote of 35-11, reinforcing many of the commitments that were included in the Senate-passed legislation. The House version includes many provisions that support the efforts of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, focusing on industry priorities such as pest and disease mitigation, trade, nutrition,and research, as well as an amendment that will help strengthen the risk management tools for specialty crop providers. Research is critical to the growers of Washington state’s 250 specialty crops, including apples, red raspberries, sweet cherries, pears, potatoes, and hops. Last Monday, Doc Hastings met with Washington potato growers to discuss the reauthorization of the Farm Bill and its support for specialty crops.
HASTINGS: From the farm standpoint, the research aspect of that for specialty crops is an important part of the Farm Bill, and that’s something that we worked very hard to put in the last Farm Bill and it was reauthorized again.
The House version however does make a significant policy change to the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program - eliminating the program’s primary focus on fresh fruits and vegetables.
United Fresh Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Robert Guenther, states that, “Opening this program to all forms of fruits and vegetables undermines the goal and focus of the program, which is to provide a fresh option to more than 3 million American school children.”
With the September 30 deadline looming, timing for the bill is critical since it must first pass the floor of the House and then go to conference between the House and Senate for agreement.
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Northwest Ag Information Network.