The Farm Bill is a piece of legislation that establishes federal policies on agriculture and nutrition. Ever since 1933, Congress has debated and passed a new Farm Bill about every five years.
The Florida Tomato Exchange is a member of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a coalition that advocates for Farm Bill policies that support producers of specialty crops – including fruits, vegetables, and tree nuts – and for policies that enhance the nutritional health of the country.
The FTE believes that U.S. agricultural policy should focus more on increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables. Healthy eating – including increased consumption of fruits and vegetables – is an easy way to improve the health of all Americans. The Farm Bill can and should establish policies that support specialty crop farming while making fruits and vegetables more accessible for all Americans. Healthy eating shouldn’t be a luxury.
The FTE’s Farm Bill priorities include:
- Automation and mechanization – Research and cost-share funding to accelerate the development and adoption of equipment that reduces specialty crop farmers’ reliance on hand labor. In the face of a shrinking workforce and competition from imports with much lower wage inputs, the Farm Bill can help advance technology that could ultimately save vast segments of American agriculture – like tomatoes – from being mostly outsourced to foreign producers.
- Research – Funding for agricultural research through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, IR-4 Project, and the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program.
- Buy American and Locally Grown – Stronger and enforceable “Buy American” requirements for schools and other institutions that source fruits and vegetables with taxpayer funds. This should be coupled with increased funding for the promotion of locally grown and American-grown fresh produce.
- Nutrition Incentives – Whether through FFVP, SNAP, GusNIP, WIC, or a new program altogether, any nutritional assistance should focus on incentivizing heathier eating choices like fruits and vegetables. Congress should increase funding for nutritional assistance programs that include healthy eating incentives.