Tuesday, July 24, 2007

2007 Farm Bill Provides Boost

The 2007 Farm Bill looks to hold historic investments in providing substantial funding for the fruit and vegetable industry.

There are many changes in nutritional programs and education, renewable energy products, and important reforms in this Farm Bill, focusing farm program benefits so they get to real farmers and boosting investment in programs that help those who haven’t received benefits through the Farm Bill before.

Important highlights of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) include:
  • Investing more than $1.6 billion in priorities to strengthen and support the fruit and vegetable industry in the United States. A new section for Horticulture and Organic Agriculture includes nutrition, research, pest management and trade promotion programs.

  • Providing farmers participating in commodity programs with a choice between traditional price protection and new market-oriented revenue coverage payments.

  • Strengthening payment limits to ensure that people making more than $1 million a year (adjusted gross income) can’t collect conservation and farm program payments and closing loopholes that allow people to avoid payment limits by receiving money through multiple business units.

  • Rebalancing loan rates and target prices among commodities, achieving greater regional equity.

  • Cutting federal payment rates to crop insurance companies that are making record profits due to higher crop prices.

  • Extending and makes significant new investments in popular conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, and many others.

  • Expanding the USDA Snack Program, which helps schools provide healthy snacks to students during after-school activities to all 50 states and continuing the DOD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides a variety of fresh produce to schools.

  • Strengthening and enhancing the food stamp program by reforming benefit rules to improve coverage of food costs and expand access to the program with additional funding support.

  • Including key provisions that invest in rural communities nationwide, including economic development programs and access to broadband telecommunication services.

  • Establishing a new National Agriculture Research Program Office to coordinate the programs and activities of USDA’s research agencies to minimize duplication and maximize coordination at all levels and creates a competitive grants program.

  • Protecting and sustaining our nation’s forest resources.

  • Making important new investments in renewable energy research, development and production in rural America.

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