The Senate's passed its version of the thousand-page bill. So, now what?
It's difficult to know what to say about a 1010-page bill that affects literally hundreds of programs, some big, some small, at such astronomical cost -- an expected $97 billion per year. The bill is so big and so complex that it is unreasonable to expect legislators to understand it well enough to vote on it intelligently. Think of it as a prime example of special interests in action.
I've been collecting e-mailed responses from various groups. From these, it's seems that the food movement scored a few wins along with plenty of losses.
First the wins. The United Fresh produce association is happy that the bill provides for:
- Specialty Crop Block Grants funded at $70 million per year
- Specialty Crop Research Initiative funded at $25 million in FY13; $30 million in FY14-15; $65 million in FY16; $50 million in FY17
- Plant Pest and Disease Program funded at $60 million in FY13-16 and $65 million in FY17
- Market Access Program and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program fully funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- Hunger-Free Communities Grant Program for fruit and vegetable SNAP incentives
- Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program
- Section 32 specialty crop purchases funded at 2008 Farm Bill levels
- DoD Fresh program fully funded at $50 million per year consistent with 2008 levels