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National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators Resolution on the 2007 Farm Bill

Felix W. Ortiz (NY)

WHEREAS, urban and rural communities all across America, will be profoundly affected by the programs contained—or omitted from—reauthorized Farm Bill legislation; and

WHEREAS, it is important to include full participation and equal treatment for all states, territories, and the District of Columbia and all programs funded and reauthorized in the Farm Bill Legislation; and

WHEREAS, members of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) represent urban and rural communities throughout the United States; and

WHEREAS, NHCSL members have expressed their keen interest in the food, farming, nutrition, farmworker health, and conservation issues addressed in federal Farm Bill legislation; and

WHEREAS, NHCSL members are concerned that many programs of greatest interest to the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators are not yet reflected in the version of the 2007 Farm Bill passed in July by the U.S. House of Representatives; and

WHEREAS, the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators understands and appreciates that the
Senate Agriculture Committee members are identifying resources that create the funding base for critical nutrition, environment, and infrastructure development needs; and

BE IT NOW RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of Stat Legislators views inclusion of the following programs in a reformed Farm Bill as absolutely critical to garnering the support of our members for this federal legislation:

---Strengthening food stamp and nutrition programs. NHCSL supports increasing the minimum for food stamp benefits; revising asset limits; removing the residency cap for legal non-citizens; simplifying the application and renewal process of the food stamp program; and developing incentives to encourage food stamp recipients to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

---Supporting innovative food projects. NHCSL notes with alarm that mandatory funding for one of the most innovative programs in the 2002 Farm Bill, Community Food Projects (CFP), was ‘zeroed’ out in the 2007 House version of the bill. NHCSL believes that these highly successful projects--many of which were undertaken in our members’ districts--should be supported with $30M in mandatory spending.

---Promoting healthy diets for all Americans. NHCSL supports incentives for businesses and individuals, and the appropriation of resources to assist in the development of infrastructure, that encourages more fruit/vegetable production, supports organic farming, and increases access to healthy and locally grown foods, particularly through farmers’ markets. Further, NHCSL recognizes the critical importance of
expanding community-level investment in retail markets and food-based businesses. NHCSL also calls for significant expansion of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program and the DoD Fresh program that brings seasonal fruits and vegetables into our schools.

---Supporting our ‘food entrepreneurs.’ NHCSL supports investments in infrastructure,
entrepreneurship programs and facilities that process, distribute and develop value-added products using locally-grown commodities purchased from small and mid-sized local farmers to meet the demand for local healthy food. This is of particular importance to Hispanic small-business owners, who play significant roles in improving access to healthy foods in their communities.

---Keeping the ‘food and nutrition safety net’ strong. NHCSL supports strengthening of The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and full funding for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP).

---Reducing air and water pollution. NHCSL seeks assurances that programs designed to protect our watersheds, fight sprawl and reduce air pollution will be adequately funded in the next Farm Bill.

---Strengthen and expand agriculture conservation programs. We believe that conservation programs are a vital strategic investment in our country's agricultural infrastructure, and therefore enhanced funding for conservation programs is critical.

BE IT ALSO RESOLVED, that the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators asks members of the Senate to identify funds essential to the aforementioned programs. The improvements we seek in this Farm Bill will strengthen the urban-rural partnerships growing throughout America and ensure that the health and environment benefits of this important legislation are extended to all citizens in the United States.

This resolution was adopted on November 17, 2007, at the NHCSL Annual Executive Committee
Meeting held during the NHCSL 5th National Summit in Miami, Florida.

Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (NY)
NHCSL President