WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a new Farm Bill that makes historic investments in fruit and vegetable production, conservation, nutrition and renewable energy while maintaining a strong safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers.
“This Farm Bill is about much more than farms. It is about the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and increasingly the fuel we will use. It assures that we will have a safe, strong food supply now and for years to come,” Chairman Peterson said.
“I am proud of the balanced and forward-looking Farm Bill that we have passed supporting conservation, nutrition, rural, renewable energy, labor, and farm country.”
Important highlights of the Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) include:
- Investing more than $1.6 billion in priorities to strengthen and support the fruit and vegetable industry in the United States. A new section for Horticulture and Organic Agriculture includes nutrition, research, pest management and trade promotion programs.
- Implementing Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for fruit, vegetables and meat after years of delay.
- Expanding the USDA Snack Program, which helps schools provide healthy snacks to students during after-school activities to all 50 states and continuing the DOD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides a variety of fresh produce to schools.
- Strengthening and enhancing the food stamp program by reforming benefit rules to improve coverage of food costs and expand access to the program with additional funding support.
- Including key provisions that invest in rural communities nationwide, including economic development programs and access to broadband telecommunication services.
- Providing farmers participating in commodity programs with a choice between traditional price protection and new market-oriented revenue coverage payments.
- Strengthening payment limits to ensure that people making more than $1 million a year (adjusted gross income) can’t collect conservation and farm program payments and closing loopholes that allow people to avoid payment limits by receiving money through multiple business units.
- Extending and making significant new investments in popular conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, and many others.
- Making important new investments in renewable energy research, development and production in rural America.
- Rebalancing loan rates and target prices among commodities, achieving greater regional equity.
- Establishing a new National Agriculture Research Program Office to coordinate the programs and activities of USDA’s research agencies to minimize duplication and maximize coordination at all levels and creates a competitive grants program.
- Protecting and sustaining our nation’s forest resources.
The House of Representatives passed the 2007 Farm Bill (H.R. 2419) by a vote of 231-191. The Senate must now consider the Farm Bill. The 2002 Farm Bill expires on September 30, 2007.