The three-year process to craft a farm bill has been difficult, lawmakers said in the teleconference. Disagreements on farm program cuts, changes in dairy policy, food stamp reforms and an unsuccessful attempt to repeal the country of origin labeling law were some of the hurdles.
Lucas acknowledged that lawmakers on the extreme liberal and conservative ends of the spectrum will oppose the bill, but said his “gut feeling” is that the bill will garner enough support in the House.
Fruit and vegetable-related programs in the farm bill include investments in local foods, organics, farmers' markets and farm-to-school initiatives, according to legislators.
“Today’s bipartisan agreement puts us on the verge of enacting a five-year Farm Bill that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety net and helps farmers and businesses create jobs,” Stabenow said in the release.
According to United Fresh, programs funded include:
- Market Access Program – reauthorizes at $200 million per year;
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program – maintains Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program authorization and baseline funding at $150 million per year;
- Healthy Incentives Program – provides $100 million program to establish “incentives grants” for projects that incentivize SNAP participants to buy fruits and vegetables;
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative – sets mandatory funding at $80 million per year. From 2014 to 2018, $25 million per year will be utilized to address the emergency citrus greening mitigation;
- Specialty Crop Block Grants – funding includes $72.5 million in 2014-2017 and $85 million in 2018. Includes multi-state funding project to be established by USDA;
- and Farmers Market Promotion Program – includes $30 million per year.
Markets Editor Andy Nelson contributed to this story.