The apple industry is concerned, she said, about the Senate farm bill’s provisions for conservation compliance requirements for crop insurance and a reduction in crop insurance subsidies for producers with an adjusted gross income of over $750,000.
Debate in the House on their version of the farm bill is expected to begin June 17, Kurrle said.
“We’re optimistic this time that we will actually get it across the finish line before it expires again (on Sept. 30),” Kurrle said June 10.
The fast-track status the Senate bill received on June 10 did not allow an amendment to be considered that would have expanded the Women and Children food program to include white potatoes, according to a spokesman for Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Collins and Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.,filed an amendment to the Farm Bill that would have required all fresh fruits and vegetables, including fresh white potatoes, to be included in the USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children food package. Since 2009, participants in the WIC program receive a produce voucher for monthly produce purchases, but the program has excluded white potatoes.
One potato industry advocate said that lawmakers in the House will be asked to support potatoes for the WIC program.
“We were gratified that ten senators recognized the need to address this issue but unfortunately given the time deadline, (there was not) a vote opportunity,” said John Keeling, chief executive officer of the National Potato Council, Washington, D.C. “We’re going to keep looking for ways to keep raising the issue,” he said.
Highlights of Senate farm bill
- Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $70 million per year;
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $25 million (FY2014);$30 million (FY2015-2016); $65 million (FY2017); $50 million (FY2018);
- Coordinated Plant Management Program funded at $60 million (FY2014-2017) and $65 million (FY2018);
- 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.
Source: United Fresh Produce Association