WASHINGTON — Farm Action recently submitted a public comment requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offer more farm system support to U.S. fruit and vegetable producers in order to boost competition in the specialty crop industry and balance our agricultural trade deficit. The comment was submitted in response to USDA’s request for information for its Specialty Crop Competitiveness Initiative.

19 farm, food, and faith organizations signed on to the comment, which echoed calls from Farm Action’s Food Not Feed campaign to shift federal farm system supports to create more opportunities for farmers growing and raising nutritious food for people, not just feed grains for livestock production.

The comment noted that “smaller, diversified, and socially disadvantaged farms are more likely to grow fruits and vegetables for human consumption.” However, these operations face more barriers to success than their larger commodity crop-producing counterparts, including obstacles in accessing land, credit, and safety net programs, the comment continued.

The comment proposed solutions to overcome these barriers: “First, we must reform federal crop insurance programs so that they are accessible to every farmer — and in particular, farmers growing food for their communities — no matter their background or the size of their operation. Second, USDA must unleash its purchasing power in support of smaller, independent, and domestic farmers and ranchers, instead of buying primarily from consolidated agribusiness corporations.”

“By prioritizing small, mid-sized, and diversified operations in our agricultural policies and in the delivery of our farm support programs, we can bolster the resilience of our local economies and rebuild the regional food systems that feed us even when global supply chains break down,” the comment continued.

In addition to the comment, Farm Action rallied more than 1,000 supporters to submit their own comments telling USDA to better support specialty crop producers. Farm Action also recently held a webinar highlighting how increased supports for specialty crop farmers can balance our soaring agricultural trade deficit.

–Farm Action



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