Representative Adam H. Putnam (R-FL 12) has introduced bipartisan legislation aimed at reflecting the significant role of fruit, vegetable, and horticulture production in the U.S. farm economy and elevating its role in the development American agricultural policy.
"Specialty crops are an important part of Florida's economy and the nation at large, and it is imperative that this vital industry have a role in the future of American agriculture," said Putnam, who serves as Chairman of the House Republican Conference. "The Equitable Agriculture Today for a Healthy America Act (EAT Healthy America Act) would support specialty crop growers by advancing tools to make them more competitive in the 21st Century agricultural economy and represents a new vision in farm policy."
The legislation elevates the federal government's investment in key programs, including pest and disease, nutrition, conservation, trade, research, as well as other challenges facing specialty crop production. Rep. Putnam was joined in wide bipartisan support for the bill, with primary cosponsors representing many areas across the nation, including Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Rep. John Salazar (D-CO), Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-NY), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
"The specialty crop industry represents a significant segment of American agriculture, but since they are not considered "program crops," specialty crops are often ignored when it comes to the development and implementation of U.S. farm policy," Putnam added. "This important agricultural sector, accounting for over a third of U.S. farm cash receipts, faces increasing challenges in the production and marketing of their commodities that must be addressed if they are to remain competitive."
"With a contribution of over $34 billion in farmgate value, the fruit, vegetable, and horticulture industry has a large stake in our nation's agricultural policy and Florida leads the nation production of many of these crops," Putnam concluded.
The legislation has the endorsement of a wide range of state and national agricultural, nutritional and conservation organizations and will be an important legislative vehicle as Congress reauthorizes the Farm Bill in 2007.