WASHINGTON, D.C - The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA) applauded the passage of the Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 in the Senate today. The 64-35 vote comes after a two-day consideration of more than 70 amendments, pared down from the nearly 300 that were submitted. The bill addresses many of the critical priorities outlined by the SCFBA and continues the support of specialty crops that was established in the 2008 Farm Bill.
"We appreciate the hard work of Majority Leader Reid, Republican Leader McConnell, Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member Roberts for getting this challenging but vital farm bill over the Senate finish line," said John Keeling, National Potato Council executive vice president and CEO and co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance. "The policies of the Farm Bill passed by the Senate will help protect the tens of thousands of jobs associated with the specialty crop industry and will help create more. And it further strengthens the access of all Americans to the specialty crops that enhance their daily lives. We look forward to ensuring that the voices of employers, workers and families dependent on a strong specialty crop industry are heard as the House makes progress on its Farm Bill."
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;
*DoD Fresh program fully funded at $50 million per year consistent with 2008 levels.