Today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) introduced legislation to promote more fresh fruit and vegetable production in America through the use of tax incentives. The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Grower Tax Incentive Act amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow for a $10,000 tax credit to farmers whose annual farming income is less than $500,000, with at least 75% of that farming income being attributable to the sale of fruits and vegetables.
"Lack of access to nutritious foods like fresh fruits and vegetables has become a significant public health issue in the United States," said Rep. Baca. "Unfortunately, an estimated 23.5 million Americans live in "food deserts' -- communities where there is limited or no access to foods necessary to maintain a healthy diet. This responsible bill provides incentives that will increase the number of fruit and vegetable growers in America, and help to end the food access crisis that is negatively impacting the health of our nation."
Lack of access to healthy foods has played a significant role in the growth of childhood obesity rates, which have more than tripled in the past 30 years. Obesity related health care now costs our nation over $147 billion annually. Advocates and nutrition experts agree that any comprehensive policy strategy to eliminate the childhood obesity crisis must include a strong focus on physical activity, nutrition education, and greater access to affordable, nutritious foods.
"With obesity related costs expected to hit $1 trillion annually by the year 2030 -- we need to realize that if left unchecked, this health crisis can literally bankrupt our nation," concluded Rep. Baca. "This legislation is an important first step in permanently erasing "food deserts' and ensuring all Americans have access to fresh, healthy foods. I will continue to work in Congress to find solutions to the childhood obesity epidemic. Working together with families, schools, and communities, we can give our children the tools they need to lead a happy, healthy life."
In the 110th and 111th Congress, Rep. Baca served as Chair of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Nutrition. During his time as Chair, he played a key role in increasing federal support for vital nutrition programs like SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), the Commodity Supplemental Foods Program, and TEFAP (The Emergency Food Assistance Program). In addition, Rep. Baca has served as a strong advocate of the fight against obesity in Congress, introducing legislation last Congress to increase physical education requirements in elementary and secondary schools, and mandate 50 hours of nutrition education per year.