House Passes Farm Bill
On Jan. 29th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2014 Farm Bill (H.R. 2642) with a bipartisan vote of 251-166.
The bill, formally known as the Agricultural Act of 2014, has been in play since 2012 and now moves to the Senate for a vote, which is expected to take place in the coming days.
All predictions are that it will pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President shortly, thereafter.
The five-year Farm Bill is a large and complicated piece of legislation with over 900 pages of text and a price tag of nearly $1 trillion.
This particular bill contains considerable reforms in crop subsidies and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as “food stamps”.
For the horticulture industry, which is a component of specialty crops, there is expanded support for many of the programs the industry cares most about. Specialty Crop Block Grants will see nearly 55% in additional funding and 2014 will be the first year where multi-state coordinated projects can be submitted.
The Specialty Crop Research Initiative will get a significant funding increase and include a revised review process and include an industry stakeholder panel that will evaluate impact and relevance of proposed projects to help in the funding priority selections.
AmericanHort has been working over the last five years, in coordination with its Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance partners, to secure the gains reflected in the bill.
“For American horticulture, this Farm Bill has been a case of ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ Presuming the Senate follows suit quickly, we will have important tools and certainty. Thanks to all our grassroots advocates who urged the House across the finish line,” said AmericanHort Senior Vice President Craig Regelbrugge.
He added, “The specialty crop programs aren’t about direct payments or subsidies, they’re about helping the horticulture industry to thrive and compete in a global marketplace where the challenges are many and often unpredictable.”.
AmericanHort suggest industry member reach out to their U.S. senators to support final passage of the Farm Bill. You can learn more at AmericanHort.org/VoterVoice.