Bronson lauds federal farm legislation
Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson Friday praised the efforts of members of Florida's congressional delegation for work on a federal farm bill that is expected to increase Florida producers' access to export markets.
“This bill contains a number of provisions that, if included in the 2007 Farm Bill, will provide the resources specialty crops need to ensure their sustainability and competitiveness,' Bronson said.
Among other elements of the bill, he noted that by enhancing existing federal programs, producers of Florida's specialty crops — including fresh fruits, vegetables and nursery plants — would have more access to valuable export markets.
Until now, the majority of federal programs have been geared toward “program” crops, which include wheat, corn, soybeans, cotton and rice. This legislation puts Florida’s specialty crops on a more level playing field when vying for federal program dollars.
“Florida ranks second in the nation in the production of fruit, vegetable and nursery crops,” Bronson said. “Specialty crops are a major contributor to the economy and now account for 54 percent of farm-gate receipts nationwide. A globally competitive specialty crop industry is imperative to production of an abundant, affordable food supply.'
The measure, known as the Equitable Agriculture Today for a Healthy America Act (EAT Healthy Act), is sponsored by Rep. Adam Putnam of Bartow, and co-sponsored by Florida congressional delegation members Reps. Tim Mahoney, Allen Boyd, Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Alcee Hastings.