Western Growers has endorsed the Equitable Agriculture Today for a Healthy America Act ("EAT Healthy America Act") introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Dennis Cardoza (D-Calif.), Kevin McCarty (R-Calif.), Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), John Salazar (D-Colo.), Randy Kuhl (R-N.Y.), and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.).

"This legislation is a comprehensive farm bill package that provides the necessary framework to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop growers throughout the nation," said Tom Nassif, Western Growers president and chief executive officer.

Specialty crop growers are a major component of U.S. agricultural production, producing nearly 50 percent of all agricultural crops in the United States by value. Federal farm bill legislation has generally not focused on the unique needs and challenges of specialty crop growers, Western Growers said.

Western Growers and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance have been working with Congress to develop comprehensive policy recommendations for inclusion in the 2007 farm bill. Western Growers is a co-chair of the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, a national coalition of over 95 organizations working with Representatives on the development of the legislation.

The recommendations include proposals for new research programs, state block grants, expanded conservation initiatives, invasive pest prevention and management, increased export market access, and innovative nutrition programs. The proposals are public/private partnership investments designed to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crop growers.

“Western Growers believes the 2007 farm bill provides a truly historic opportunity for lawmakers to improve U.S. farm policy in a way that is supportive of all domestically produced crops," said Nassif.

Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose nearly 3,000 members grow, pack, and ship 90 percent of the fresh vegetables and nearly 70 percent of the fresh fruits and nuts grown in Arizona and California, about one-half of the nation's fresh produce.