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A Major Victory for Michigan’s Fruit and Vegetable Growers

 

By U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow

 

The fall season is truly in full swing.  The leaves are changing and continue to blanket our lawns.  Farmers across Michigan have harvested their crops, and families are planning to get together for Thanksgiving.

 

With our farmers and families in mind, the Senate Agriculture Committee has recently passed the 2007 Farm Bill.  As a member of the Committee, I am proud to say that this bill, which only comes around once every five years, is a big win for our state.  Whether it’s support for nutrition, alternative energy, conservation, rural development or traditional farm programs, Michigan families will benefit from every aspect of this bill we’ve written.

 

Here in Michigan, where agriculture is the second largest industry, we grow a greater variety of crops than any other state besides California and we’re a national leader in the production of numerous crops, including blueberries, apples, cherries, asparagus and celery.

 

To highlight just one of the big wins for Michigan in this bill, for the first time in history, our country’s fruits and vegetables – called specialty crops – are being properly recognized in the farm bill.  Through research dollars, programs to combat pests and disease, and competitive grants - just to name a few provisions - this Farm Bill puts a new focus on the important contribution our fruit and vegetable growers make to the economy and the health of our nation. 

 

This is a win not only for Michigan’s farmers, but for consumers as well.      

 

Each of us can recall our grandparents or parents telling us to eat our fruits and vegetables. The problem is if we all heeded that advice, we’d simply run out of healthy options.  Reports suggest that if every American consumed the federal dietary guidelines of 5 to 13 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, there wouldn’t be enough to go around. 

  

This bill seeks to reverse that trend by expanding a number of nutrition programs, including the successful Fruit and Vegetable Program which could bring $6 million to our state next year and provide fresh fruit and vegetables to approximately 120,000 elementary school children.  This bill also expands support for farmers markets, community gardens and organic farming.  With the rates of obesity and related disease, such as diabetes, on the rise, ensuring our children have access to healthy food choices is an important investment in America’s future.

 

And it is important to make that investment while showing support for American products. That is why I authored a provision, which says that all federal funds must be used to buy fruits and vegetables from American farmers and growers.    

 

When it comes to keeping our families healthy, Michigan growers are at the forefront, delivering for our country.  I was proud to lead this successful effort in this Farm Bill and will continue the fight for Michigan’s farmers and families as a member of the Agriculture Committee.

 

 

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