“There is a lot of optimism but there is not yet a lot of activity,” said Tom O’Brien, Washington, D.C. representative of the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association.
Industry leaders have been lobbying hard for Congress to take up the legislation, pointing out that both the full Senate and the House Agriculture Committee both passed farm bills earlier this summer that invest $1 billion more in specialty crop programs than the 2008 Farm Bill did.
O’Brien said that the fate of the farm bill is tied to decisions relating to the fiscal cliff.
House Agriculture chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., indicated to Politico Nov. 15 that he was still unsure how the House would deal with the farm bill.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., said in an interview with AgriTalk (a radio talk show owned by The Packer’s parent company, Vance Publishing Corporation) that Republicans will face a fight if it tries to pass a simple one-year extension.
The farm bill passed by the Senate would provide a $70 million annual investment in the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, $50 million for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, $150 million annually for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, $50 million annually to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to schools and service institutions, $71.5 million for pest and disease management and $200 million annually for the Market Access Program.