The Farm Ranch Equity Stewardship and Health Act of 2007 was introduced Tuesday by Senators Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. The FRESH act would overhaul crop subsidy programs and provide a cost-saving farm safety net. It provides $6 billion more in funding for conservation programs, would increase nutrition and renewable energy programs and would provide free crop revenue insurance to all commodity, fruit and vegetable growers.
"By offering revenue insurance to all farmers, no matter what they grow, the FRESH Act would end the unfair policy of picking favorites among crops and farmers," says Tim Male, a scientist with Environmental Defense.
Environmental Defense is one of several groups that are supporting the FRESH Act. The reform legislation would target government assistance to help farmers when farm revenue declines, and would not provide subsidies to farms when they don’t need help. It also aligns agriculture programs with international obligations at the World Trade Organization.
Senator Lugar, a member of the Agriculture Committee, does not plan to bring this bill into the farm bill mark-up scheduled today, but will instead take it to the Senate floor. A similar bill failed in the House, but Lugar says this bill is fully funded and would not require additional revenue.