Larsen Introduces Comprehensive Specialty Crops Legislation
Washington, DC, March 21, 2007
This week, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Rep. Adam Putman (R-FL), Rep. John Salazar (D-CO), Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-NY) and Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) introduced the “Equitable Agriculture Today for a Healthy America Act” (EAT Healthy America Act). This bill would support specialty crop growers by increasing market access, encouraging and facilitating consumption of nutritious agricultural products, expanding funding for research programs and increasing opportunities for family farmers in conservation programs.
“Today's growers are competing not only with farmers down the road, but with farmers around the world,” said Larsen. “The EAT Healthy America Act will help our specialty crop growers access new markets and compete internationally. This bill is a big leap toward recognizing and promoting the economic contributions that specialty crop growers make to Washington state, the Pacific Northwest and the country.”
In April, Larsen met with Washington farmers in three counties to discuss the 2007 Farm Bill and the need for comprehensive specialty crop legislation. Washington’s specialty crops include potatoes, raspberries and nursery products, and Washington is the third-largest producer of specialty crops in the country. At meetings with Snohomish and Skagit county farmers, Larsen was joined by Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), a key player in creating the 2007 Farm Bill and chairman of the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture.
“The passage of the EAT Healthy America Act would represent a huge step forward for federal farm programs,” said Cardoza when he joined Larsen and the bipartisan coalition in introducing the bill. “Specialty crops are an important part of local economies in all 50 states, and it is imperative that we recognize their vital contributions by ensuring that specialty crop growers have an important role in the future of American agriculture.”
Specialty crops, which include fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits and nursery products, are a significant part of the American agriculture industry, constituting almost fifty percent of total cash receipts both nationally and in Washington state.