Value-Added Grants — The farm bill includes funding of $63 million over five years for grants that can help companies create new products, expand their marketing or develop specialty and niche products.
Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program — This produce industry hallmark of the farm bill provides funding at $150 million a year. Thanks to this innovative program, school kids across the country receive fresh produce snacks to help ensure their nutrition and educate them about the flavorful benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps) Incentive Program — This important new program devotes $100 million over five years for grants to incentivize SNAP recipients to buy fruits and vegetables. This commitment to evaluate ways to increase healthy choices in the $80 billion food stamp program may prove to be the biggest step forward in this farm bill.
The Market Access Program is continued at $200 million per year to help producers and commodity groups market their products overseas.
Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops provides $9 million a year to address complex technical in trade.
The Plant Pest and Disease Program includes funding of $62.5 million a year increasing to $75 million in fiscal 2018.
Overall, these and other programs constitute a 55% increase in the government’s investment in the produce industry’s competitiveness and the nutritional wellbeing of Americans through increased consumption of fruits and vegetables.
In the weeks ahead, United Fresh will conduct outreach and education to help our members understand how to utilize these programs and resources afforded by this new farm bill.
Congratulations to all whose vision, leadership and commitment have resulted in outstanding legislation that will benefit our industry and consumers for many years to come.
Thank goodness the farm bill only comes around every five years.
Now, on to getting immigration reform passed.
Tom Stenzel is president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association.
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