Roberts Recognizes Fruit and Vegetable Growers for Providing Families with Safe, Healthy Food

Says fruit and vegetable programs in new Farm Bill should ensure growers remain competitive both domestically and globally

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today said committee members must take a careful look at fruit and vegetable programs in the new Farm Bill to ensure they are helping growers remain competitive in the marketplace.
 
“My job is to make sure our growers are given adequate tools they can utilize to continue providing our families with safe, nutritious, and healthy foods, and they’re doing this under some of the most stringent government regulations with very tight profit margins,” said Roberts. “We need to look closely at all programs and determine whether they are generating the results we expected from the 2008 Farm Bill, and be very mindful of any duplication of efforts to ensure that we are using financial resources wisely.”
 
Sen. Roberts made the comments during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing, titled, “Opportunities for Specialty Crops and Organics in the Farm Bill.” He encouraged U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officials to provide specialty producers with the tools they need to compete in the U.S. and throughout the world.
 
“Kansas producers continue to tell me that federal regulations from outside USDA pose just as great a threat to their ability to feed a troubled and hungry world as anything else,” he said. “I look forward to understanding just what tools they need in place so that they can continue to compete domestically and globally, and they can continue to supply our families with healthy food.”
 
The following is the full text of his opening comments:
 
Madame Chairwoman, thank you for calling this hearing to focus on specialty crops and organics and opportunities for this sector of agriculture as we consider our next Farm Bill.
 
I commend you and the work many in this industry did during the 2008 Farm Bill. As you have mentioned, there were many unique things about the 2008 Farm Bill- one of which is that it marked the first significant investment of mandatory funding for our specialty crop and organic producers. While I admit Kansas does not have a significant amount of fruits and vegetable production, we do have some specialty crops mostly around the southeast corner of the state- peaches, pecans, potatoes, and a small but developing wine industry.
 
And like the rest of my Kansan farmers and ranchers, I know that this industry is devoted to supplying our families with safe, healthy and nutritious foods, and doing this under some of the most stringent government regulations with very tight profit margins.
 
As you and I have mentioned here before, we need to look closely at all programs and determine whether they are generating the results we expected from the 2008 Farm Bill, and be very mindful of any duplication of efforts to ensure that we are using financial resources wisely.
 
I look forward to hearing from the witnesses about programs authorized under Title Ten and additional programs they might have used. I look forward to understanding just what tools they need in place so that they can continue to compete domestically and globally, and they can continue to supply our families with healthy food.
 
I realize that our farm programs aren’t the only policies that affect production. I’m also looking forward to hearing from today’s witnesses about the impacts of federal regulations on their operations. Kansas producers continue to tell me that federal regulations from outside USDA pose just as great a threat to their ability to feed a troubled and hungry world as anything else.
 
Thank you, Undersecretary Woteki and Deputy Undersecretary Wright for joining us today. I also thank our producers and witnesses on the second panel for joining us as well.
 
The committees will face difficult choices ahead due to budget constraints and your perspectives on current agriculture programs and the direction of this next Farm Bill are critical to the committee’s work in drafting policies that provide producers with the tools necessary for success.
 
Madame Chairwoman, you have convened a diverse panel representing the wide range of the specialty crop and organic communities. I look forward to their testimony and tasting the fruits of their labors if they have any snacks with them today.
 
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