The agricultural industry has received promising news via the Senate. The Farm Bill has passed with flying colors and with it brings several amazing reforms and programs to enhance crop research and pest and disease research, improve market promotion, boost nutrition, and support funding for specialty crops (fruits and vegetables), and more. This support has really restored confidence for those in the industry.
Reform features, as cited by Growing Produce, include:
- Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $70 million per year
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $25 million (fiscal year 2014); $30 million (fiscal year 2015-16); $65 million (fiscal year 2017); $50 million (fiscal year 2018)
- Coordinated Plant Management Program funded at $60 million (fiscal year 2014-17) and $65 million (fiscal year 2018)
- Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- Section 32 specialty crop purchases funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- Department of Defense Fresh program fully funded at $50 million per year consistent with 2008 levels
Now, comes the process of waiting on the full House to also approve these acts and reforms.
Farmers have been working relentlessly to get the Farm Bill heard loud and clear, going so far as to compose a letter signed by approximately 200 supporters, including ag lending and banking groups and processing and production groups.
An excerpt of this letter briefly highlights the significance of this agricultural reform for the industry:
“The farm bill promotes an economically healthy U.S. agriculture sector. Its policies serve a variety of purposes including meeting the food, fuel and fiber needs of consumers worldwide; providing a farm and natural resource safety net; improving our balance of trade through trade promotion programs; promoting rural development; and creating needed jobs here at home.”
It all sounds solid, yet there does exist strong opposition to the Farm Bill. Hopefully, this opposition will only fuel a sound debate that intelligently explores the potential of this bill. Fortunately, it seems as though the majority is in favor. Due to a strong majority, the bill is expected to pass quickly and effortlessly. Legislation starts next week, so stay tuned! Fingers crossed for more promising news for the agricultural community!