International Fresh Produce Association Gains Procurement Bill Support; Mollie Van Lieu Shares
WASHINGTON, DC - We received some exciting news straight from the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) press room this week. The organization announced that Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) and Representatives David Valadao (CA-22) and Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) have introduced the Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act. The legislation will give USDA tools to diversify the produce supply chain that provides fruits and vegetables to food banks and other nonprofits that serve the nutritionally insecure.
“The demand for fresh fruits and vegetables at food banks and those serving the nutrition insecure remains high, but the existing model limits both the suppliers and varieties offered to consumers,” said Mollie Van Lieu, Vice President of Nutrition and Health. “IFPA thanks Reps. Valadao (CA-22) and DeLauro (CT-3) and Senator Sherrod Brown (OH) for their support of this bill, which will unlock our diverse and local supply chains to distribute more U.S.-grown fresh produce to those who need it most.”
On average, USDA directly purchases more than $2 billion annually of domestic commodities for redistribution to feeding sites across the United States, according to a press release. Currently, only five bulk fresh produce commodities are available within the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) resulting in just under $6.5 million in purchases. The new procurement bill will expand USDA’s ability to tap into the established diverse, local, and regional supply chains by considering a value-based bid process.
A value-based buying approach in awarding contracts reportedly extends opportunity to more growers and distributors of all sizes. This also makes available a wider variety of high-quality produce, providing more options reflective of the preferences of the populations served at the feeding sites.
AT IFPA’s recent Washington Conference, members marched on Capitol Hill to advocate for a number of industry priorities including labor, food safety, nutrition, and more. The Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act was just one example of legislation IFPA has been advocating for this year. This is one of 15 bills that have been introduced in Congress related to the 2018 Farm Bill reauthorization that has the support of IFPA and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance.
We applaud IFPA and all the industry advocates who helped bring this bill to fruition!