American Fruit and Vegetable advocates that tax payer sponsored food programs purchase American grown and processed foods when possible, over same or comparable imported foods.
Eliminate Restrictions on Growing Fruit and Vegetables for Processing
American Fruit advocates removal of planting restrictions on farm ground. America's family farmer should be allowed to plant any fruit or vegetable they deem profitable and applicable to their growing region. Current federal law does not allow farmers to grow fruits or vegetables if they have their farm signed up in the federal farm program. Farmers need the ability to diversify into higher cash value crops and to rotate crops as is widley recommended by land grant universities.
Allow more Fruits and Vegetables of All Forms to be Served in Government Sponsored Nutrition Programs
Repeated food science studies prove that the nutritional value of canned, frozen and dried fruits and vegetables meet and often exceed nutritional content of similar fresh produce. The American Fruit and Vegetable Coalition promotes inclusion of processed fruits and vegetables in school lunch programs, WIC, food stamps and other government sponsored food relief efforts. Processed foods are economical alternatives to the spoilage and high cost of "fresh" produce. Processed food products offer the greatest efficiencies to tax sponsored food assistance. Canned and frozen foods afford important labor savings to school cafeteria staffs. AFVPGC urges strengthening the School Snack Program by revising its rules to permit schools access to all nutritionally appropriate fruits and vegetables.
Enhance Crop Insurance
AFVPGC urges Congress to continue to press for equitable federal crop insurance coverage of specialty crops, including by allowing specialty crop producers “Trend Adjusted Yields” and “Enterprising Units,” as permitted to commodity producers.
Producers work hard to manage risk. In assessing whether to forego program crop benefits in order to undertake the increased workload of specialty crop production, producers consider the availability and quality of risk management tools. Federal crop insurance coverage of corn and soybeans offer significantly better risk protection than crop insurance available for specialty crops, which discourages fruit and vegetable production.
School Lunch Regulations Proposed by USDA
American Fruit and Vegetable believes that the USDA is proposing radical and unworkable changes to the School Lunch Program. The overreaching rule will which cause damage and lower participation of students to an otherwise successful program. Some of the most favored fruits and vegetables that students consume will be severely limited under the new rule. Additionally, the rule carries a $7.5 Billion unfunded mandate which the nation's schools can ill afford.
The successful School Lunch Program has been unfairly demonized. American Fruit and Vegetable believes that the USDA should rewrite the proposed rule implementing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.
American Fruit and Vegetable Processors and Growers Coalition advocates an immigration policy that would provide growers and processors adequate seasonal labor to harvest and process crops. Most fruit and vegetable farmers and processors are located in remote rural areas where temporary seasonal labor in large numbers is simply not available. The current H2A program for agriculture is overly bureaucratic, time consuming and difficult to utilize. It is particularly unworkable for a small family farm that does not have human resource personnel or other expertise on handle the complex paperwork. The H2A program is not available for processors to use due to seasonal labor definitions contained in 1930s outdated labor law. A simple traceable temporary agriculture worker program is needed to supply American agriculture and off-the-farm food processing industry with timely labor supply.