Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has commended the U.S. Senate for its passage of the U.S. farm bill.

“We’re very appreciative of the efforts of the Senate, and especially Florida Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez for their support of the legislation,” Bronson said. ‘This measure will be extremely beneficial to Florida’s agricultural industry, the hundreds of thousands of Floridians who work in the industry and consumers in general.”

Bronson also thanked Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin and Ranking Member Saxby Chambliss for their assistance in the bill’s passage.

Examples of items in the bill important to Florida:

• Expansion of the USDA Fruit and Vegetable Snack Program as it will benefit nearly 5 million students nationwide.

• Expansion of the Speciality Crop Block Grant, which will help fund projects focused on regional and local priorities for fruit and vegetable producers. These projects have been successful in improving food safety, investing in infrastructure, enhancing market opportunities and supporting research aimed at specific industry needs.

• New investments to both prevent and mitigate impacts of plant pests and diseases, which cost the economy millions of dollars and are a significant threat to crops.

• Enhanced trade assistance and market promotion programs that will help grow international markets for specialty crops.

• Direct significant new investments in specialty crop research to improve the safety, quality, affordability and access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

The House passed its version of the bill in July, and the legislation will now go to a conference committee to resolve differences between the respective versions of the measure.