“How do you put back the aggregation and processing points that have eroded severely for decades if you are going to meet this new consumer demand?” he said.
With a projected cost of about $600 million over five years above the current baseline spending in the farm bill, Hoefner said the Senate legislation is designed to fit into the next the 2012 farm bill.
“It is certainly less than half of 1% of the total spending for farmers.”
Hoefner said the legislation seeks to bring technology that would give farmers markets the ability to accept electronic benefits from participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamp) program.
The Local Farms and Food Act would authorize the USDA’s Risk Management Association to develop a whole farm revenue insurance product for diversified operations, including specialty crops operations.
Guenther said United Fresh is looking at the issue of crop insurance and what products may need to be changed or added to the mix.
“We don’t want to have Congress writing legislation that would encourage the proliferation of products that may be market-distorting,” Guenther said. “That’s one of our biggest concerns right now.”