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United Fresh, Wholesome Wave support farm bill

The United Fresh Produce Association and Wholesome Wave, an organization that helps low-income people buy healthier foods, today praised the Senate Agriculture Committee for approving a bill that includes a number of provisions to help fruit and vegetable production and local agriculture.

Robert Guenther, United Fresh Produce Association

Robert Guenther
“For the fresh fruit and vegetable industry and United Fresh members, this bill answers the call over the last year to continue to build on the investments made in the 2008 farm bill,” Robert Guenther, a United Fresh vice president for public policy, said in a news release.

According to the United Fresh, the provisions important to the fruit and vegetable industry include:
  • Funding of $150 million annually for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program.
  • Annual funding at $50 million per year for the Department of Defense program to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to schools and service institutions.
  • Investment of $70 million annually for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program.
  • Funding for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative at $25 million per year ramping up to $50 million by 2017.
  • Increased funding of $60 million in 2013 up to $65 million 2017 for pest and disease management programs.
  • Funding for the Market Access Program ($200 million per year) and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops ($9 million per year).
  • Funding for the Hunger-Free Communities Grant Program for fruit and vegetable SNAP incentives at $100 million over 5 years.
  • Funding for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program at $100 million over 5 years.
  • Section 32 specialty crop purchases funded at $406 million per year in mandatory purchases.
Wholesome Wave praised many of the same provisions and also noted that the bill includes provisions for a pilot program for mobile technology and online ordering for the supplemental nutrition assistance program better known as SNAP or food stamps, as well as an amendment to permit SNAP redemption by community supported agriculture.

Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave

Michel Nischan
Wholesome Wave President and CEO Michel Nischan commended Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and ranking member Pat Roberts, R-Kan., for including $20 million a year to promote nutrition at farmers markets.

”These incentives are sorely needed by thousands of SNAP, WIC (Women, Infants and Children program) and seniors eager to access fresh local food at their nearby farmers markets — incentives can improve affordability and also help to improve small farmer revenues,” Nischan said.