Menendez Continues To Fight For Equitable Funding For New Jersey's Specialty Corps

Menendez Continues To Fight For Equitable Funding For New Jersey's Specialty Corps

Washington - In a letter sent today, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) joined Senate colleagues in urging Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee to allocate an additional $1.6 billion for Specialty Crops programs. Previous farm bills offered large subsidies for commodity crops, such as wheat and corn, but largely ignored the needs of farmers who grew specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables and nursery crops. In New Jersey, the vast majority of agricultural value comes from specialty crops, with the Garden State nationally ranked 2nd in the producing of blueberries, 3rd in the production of cranberries, and 4th in the production of spinach.

"For far too long, the farmers who have brought healthy fruits and vegetables to our table and approximately half of cash crop sales to our nation's economy have received disproportionate financial assistance from their federal government," Menendez said. "Our nation can no longer afford to ignore the nutritional and dietary needs of many for the interests of a select few."

The 2007 Farm Bill passed by the House of Representatives contains $ 1.6 billion in mandatory funding for specialty crop programs such as the State Specialty Crop Competitiveness project, the USDA Fruit and Vegetables Program, conservation programs, and other plans promoting the specialty crop industry in America. The Senate version of the Farm Bill does not include these provisions.

"The House has provided some help to our specialty crop farmers and the Senate must at the very least match this level of support," Menendez added. "Our national agricultural policy should promote fairness to our farmers and access to healthy food. The Senate should take this opportunity to give New Jersey's farmers and specialty crop cultivators across the nation the support they need to keep our nation well fed."

Menendez is a cosponsor of the Specialty Crops Competition Act of 2007 and has previously written the Agricultural Committee's leadership in support of the USDA Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program (http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/062107USDAfreshfruitsnackprogram.pdf) and the USDA voluntary conservation incentive program (http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/071607USDAhealthyfood.pdf).

The Senate Delegation letter to Agriculture Chairman Harkin and Ranking Member Chambliss is available online at:

http://menendez.senate.gov/pdf/092007SpecialtyCropLetter.pdf

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