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(Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) led a bipartisan, bicameral group of 90 Senators and Congressman in sending a letter to Congressional agriculture leaders urging the inclusion of strong specialty crop provisions in the final version of the Farm Bill, which is currently under negotiations.  The Senate version of the Farm Bill contained approximately $2.2 billion for specialty crops, and the House version contained approximately $1.6 billion.

Learn more about specialty crops and the funding included in the Farm Bill.

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The full text of Senator Murray's letter follows:

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

We write to thank you for your leadership in including strong specialty crops provisions in both the Senate and House versions of the Farm Bill, and reiterate our strong support for maintaining these important programs as you work through conference.

As you know, specialty crops represent approximately 50 percent of U.S. crop cash receipts and are of great significance both to farmers working the land and consumers seeking healthy foods.   Therefore, we continue to believe very strongly that the Farm Bill should include mandatory funding for programs that support and enhance this important sector of American agriculture.

As you work through the conference process, we ask for your continued leadership and support of mandatory funding and retaining the highest funding levels for specialty crop programs.  

Both the House and Senate bills include funding for programs that are vital to specialty crop growers.  The Specialty Crop Block Grant program, which helps local stakeholders with local projects, research programs that will improve the taste and quality of healthful foods, and expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable (Snack) Program nationwide are three examples of significant and valuable investments made in both the House and Senate bills.  These and other programs will increase the competitiveness of our specialty crop farmers, and will encourage healthy foods and community projects that will help develop life-long health through consumption of fruits and vegetables.

We are pleased that the Senate bill included approximately $2.2 billion in mandatory funding over five years for specialty crops, and the House bill provided approximately $1.6 billion over five years.  We strongly urge you to ensure that funding for these vital programs remains at the highest possible level during conference negotiations. We understand that you face a difficult task in crafting a final version of the Farm Bill, and we appreciate your leadership on this important issue. 

Sincerely,

Patty Murray
United States Senator