Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson has lauded President George W. Bush for the 2007 farm bill proposal released by the United States Department of Agriculture and singled out its new focus on the types of crops grown in Florida.

Bronson joined USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Thomas Dorr in Arcadia to release details of the proposal, that Bronson calls Florida friendly, to a group of agriculture industry leaders.

“For the first time ever, there is a strong focus on fruit, vegetable, and nursery crops which now make up almost 55 percent of cash receipts in agriculture,” Bronson said. “USDA Secretary Mike Johanns had indicated he intended for the next farm bill to more equitably distribute resources among all producers. He has made good on his promise to address the needs of all agriculture, including the small farmer.”

Since the 2002 farm bill, Bronson and Florida industry leaders have been advocating for more federal support for fruit, vegetable and nursery crops, known as specialty crops. In addition to proposing a three billion dollar increase in the federal government’s purchase of fresh fruit and vegetables for the school lunch program, the USDA proposal would also direct significant resources to Florida agriculture’s highest priorities, including research, conservation, and help in opening new markets.

Bronson also praised Johanns for his commitment to renewable energy as the proposal includes a greater emphasis on cellulosic ethanol research and production which complements Bronson’s Farm to Fuel Initiative.

Bronson says he recognizes Congress will ultimately decide what the farm bill looks like, but he applauds USDA for putting forth a bold proposal that will provide much needed assistance to the small farm and help ensure a safe and wholesome food supply for all Americans.

For detailed information about the proposed farm bill, go to the USDA’s website at www.usda.gov.