The measure has a long way to go, but here's where lawmakers have found some common ground.
I haven't said anything recently about the current status of the farm bill, mainly because it is too early in the political process to know what is going to happen.
The bill still has a long way to go. It must be passed by the Senate. The House has to pass an equivalent bill. The two bills must be reconciled. The final bill must be signed by the President.
Otherwise, the current farm bill expires on September 30.
As is always the case with anything having to do with the farm bill, the devil is in the details. The number of programs covered by the bill is vast, and the details even more so.
In efforts to align agricultural policy with health policy, the current proposal makes a little headway. The proposed bill funds:
- $150 million annually for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program
- $50 million per year for the Defense Department Fresh program, which provides fresh fruits and vegetables to schools and service institutions
- $70 million annually for the Specialty Crop Block Grant program
- $25 million annually for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, to go to $50 million by 2017
- $60 million in 2013 up to $65 million 2017 for pest and disease management programs
- $200 million annually for The Market Access Program and $9 million for the Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops program
- $100 million over 5 years for the Hunger-Free Communities Grant Program for fruit and vegetable SNAP incentives
- $100 million over 5 years for the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program
- $406 million annually for Section 32 specialty crop purchases