New Legislation Gives Specialty Crops a Boost

A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives introduced legislation Tuesday addressing marketplace equity, health and environmental concerns.

Published on: Mar 20, 2007

A bill introduced Tuesday develops equity, health, and the environment as farm bill priorities, and benefits specialty crops.

Reps. Dennis Cardoza, D-Cal., Adam Putnam, R-Fla., John Salazar, D-Co., Rick Larsen, D-Wash., and Kevin McCarthy, R-Cal., introduced the Equitable Agriculture Today for a Healthy America Act, or as bill supporters tag it, the EAT Healthy America Act. The bill also has bipartisan support from a number of co-sponsors.

Some of the issues the act addresses include: competitiveness in agricultural markets; nutrition programs, including the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program in schools; increased research investment for specialty crops; increased funding and expanded programs to protect against invasive pests; and a number of environmental guards for restoring wetlands, enhancing habitat, and protecting agricultural land against suburban sprawl.

"The EAT Healthy America Act will help make health, equity and the environment a central focus of the 2007 Farm Bill," says Scott Faber, farm policy campaign director for Environmental Defense. "Our farmers and ranchers are eager to solve America's environmental challenges. They can help provide clean air, clean water, and clean energy, but only if we reward – rather than reject – their offers to help."

"This bill is a comprehensive farm bill package that provides the necessary framework to enhance the competitiveness of the specialty crop industry and increase consumer consumption of fruits and vegetables," says Robert Guenther, senior vice-president of public policy at United Fresh and co-chair of the coalition's Legislative Committee.