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Senate Approves Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act

The U.S. Senate passed the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2004 on Dec. 7. The legislation would authorize $54 million annually for five years to enhance the competitiveness of fresh produce crops, including block grants to states for local research and marketing programs.

The bill does not call for direct subsidies. Instead, it would largely fund block grants offered through state departments of agriculture, which would provide technical assistance, specialized research programs into such topics as crop protection tools and pest management systems, regulation review, education for consumers, improved food inspection facilities and other aid designed to bolster the competitiveness of the fresh produce industry.

The last specialty-crop assistance package approved by Congress gave $169 million in block grants to growers in 2001.

The bill next moves on to the White House for the president’s signature.

Originally posted Monday, Dec. 20, 2004

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