Calling Friday’s (5 October) action, “welcomed news,” United President & CEO Tom Stenzel reacted to the U.S. House passage of H.R. 2646, “The Farm Security Act of 2001.”

“On behalf of the produce industry and the larger agricultural community, I want to personally thank congressional leaders for having provided us a seat at the table during this process,” commented Stenzel. “United looks forward to working with Chairman Harkin and the entire Senate on bringing about a Farm Bill that is equitable for everyone.” On July 17, 2001, Tom Stenzel testified before the House Agriculture Committee in representing the produce industry.

Among the provisions in the final measure that will have a direct impact on the produce industry include: additional funding for surplus commodities; more authority to the Secretary of Agriculture to access Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding to respond immediately to plant and animal pest and disease emergencies; the creation of a Technical Assistance Specialty Crop (TASC) fund to assist with trade barriers; and increased funding of the Market Access Program (MAP) to aid with the creation, expansion, and maintenance of foreign markets for U.S. agricultural products.

“We support the progress that has been made with ‘The Farm Security Act of 2001’ in the House of Representatives” added United’s Vice President for Government and Public Affairs, Robert Guenther. “However, we also recognize the need to continue our efforts to ensure that the produce industry’s priorities are given strong consideration in the final measure.”

While the final House-approved version contains much of the same language from the measure passed by the House Agriculture Committee in late July, there is one notable exception regarding the “country of origin” labeling issue. Specifically, an amendment from Representative Mary Bono (CA-44) was included with the final bill which would amend the Perishable Agriculture Commodities Act (PACA) to require point-of-sale “country of origin” labeling on all perishable agriculture commodity imports.

Founded in 1904, United is the national trade organization that represents the interests of producers and distributors of commercial quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables. United represents the business interests of growers, shippers, processors, brokers, wholesalers and distributors of produce, working together with our customers at retail and foodservice, our suppliers at every step in the distribution chain, and our international partners.