This bill is important because it allocates over $286 billion for ensuring a safe, nutritious and plentiful food supply, conserving farm lands, protecting and revitalizing rural communities, and developing renewable energy sources.
- Provide over $1.6 billion to support the U.S. fruit and vegetable industry with funding for new programs in nutrition, research, pest management and trade promotion.
- Implement mandatory Country of Origin Labeling for fruit, vegetables and meat.
- Expand the USDA After School Snack Program and continue the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides a variety of fresh produce to schools.
- Enhance the Food Stamp Program by reforming benefit rules to improve coverage of fluctuating food costs.
- Provide funding for rural communities, including economic development programs and access to broadband telecommunication services.
- Close loopholes currently allowing people making more than $1 million a year to collect conservation and farm program payments.
- Extend and enhance conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, and Farm and Ranchland Protection Program.
- Allocate funding for renewable energy research, development and production in rural America.
Bill Reopens Racial Discrimination Case
The bill would also reopen a racial discrimination settlement reached eight years ago between the USDA and black farmers who claimed the USDA had routinely denied them subsidies and farm loans because of their race.
Nearly 22,500 black farmers filed claims before the deadline stipulated in the settlement, and two-thirds of those farmers were paid a total of almost $1 billion in compensation. Another 74,000 farmers filed claims that were never heard, because they were filed after the settlement’s deadline.
The 2007 Farm Bill would allow those farmers who missed the deadline to re-file their claims and creates a new process under which they could seek expedited awards of up to $50,000 in compensation.
The U.S. Senate is not expected to draft its version of the 2007 Farm Bill until September, after lawmakers return from the Labor Day recess.