Senate farm bill passes by wide margin

06/21/2012 02:14:00 PM
Tom Karst

Among the amendments that passed in the Senate, Keeling said the alliance is looking at the effect of an amendment that reduces the amount of crop insurance premiums paid by the government for growers with incomes over $750,000.

“Our gut reaction is that is going to disproportionately impact the producers of high value crops and would discourage participation in crop insurance programs,” Keeling said.

Another crop insurance provision in the bill mandates compliance with conservation and environmental requirements, which Nuxoll said will be a new reality for specialty crop growers.

Nuxoll said Western Growers is pleased with the passage of several amendments, including an air quality amendment that will help growers in California’s Central Valley upgrade to more efficient tractor engines.

The Senate also OK’d an amendment that will help organic growers access crop insurance, he said.

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $70 million per year
  • Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $25 million in FY13; $30 million in FY14-15; $65 million in FY16; $50 million in FY17
  • Plant Pest and Disease Program funded at $60 million in FY13-16 and $65 million in FY17
  • 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
  • Hunger-Free Communities Grant Program for fruit and vegetable SNAP incentives
  • Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program
  • Section 32 specialty crop purchases funded at 2008 farm bill levels
  • The Department of Defense Fresh program fully funded at $50 million per year consistent with 2008 levels

Source: United Fresh Produce Association


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