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Specialty crop industry calls farm bill extension missed opportunity for agriculture

The Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance (SCFBA), a national coalition of more than 120 specialty crop organizations representing 350 specialty crops, calls the latest extension of the Farm Bill a "missed opportunity" to enact federal farm policy that improves nutrition for all Americans while injecting more competition into the marketplace. Specialty crops account for nearly half of all cash crop receipts in America. The Alliance urges Congressional leaders and the Administration to finalize the details of the Farm Bill for a vote in April.

The Alliance issued the following statement:

"Both the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill make a strong investment in specialty crops and their priorities. We believe that this extension represents a missed opportunity to move agriculture into the 21st Century and make federal farm policy more equitable for all of agriculture. It is imperative that Congressional leaders and the Administration continue working during this extension to craft legislation that recognizes our priorities, including improving nutrition, enhancing research capabilities, eradicating invasive pests and diseases and increasing state competitiveness projects that focus on food safety and increasing consumption of specialty crops."

Priorities of Specialty Crop Producers

·Expand the USDA Fruit & Vegetable Snack Program to all 50 states to develop life-long healthy eating habits for children through consumption of fruits and vegetables.

·Establish a research initiative to develop and disseminate science-based tools to address the needs of specialty crop producers.

·Increase funding for "State Specialty Crop Competitiveness Grants" that focus on state, regional and local programs to enhance producers' ability to compete in the marketplace and provide consumers with safe, abundant food.

·Enhance critical trade assistance and market promotion tools that will grow international markets for specialty crops.

·Invest in prevention and mitigation protocols to combat invasive pest and diseases, which cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars per year.

·Facilitate specialty crop producers' access to and participation in conservation programs.

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