Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young today introduced The Fruit and Vegetable Planting Flexibility Act of 2017 (Farm Flex), which would continue to allow Hoosier farmers to plant specialty crops like fruits and vegetables without experiencing a permanent penalty to commodity program eligibility.
The legislation would continue the principles of the Farm Flex program, which allows farmers to plant fruits and vegetables by voluntarily reducing the amount of their acres eligible for Farm Bill commodity programs each year. The bill would also ensure that in the event USDA does a recalculation of base acres for commodity programs, USDA would maintain commodity program eligibility for acres planted in fruits or vegetables through the Farm Flex provisions in the current farm bill.
Donnelly said, “As we begin work on the latest farm bill, I will continue my efforts to ensure that Hoosier farmers are able to keep making planting decisions based on what they think is best. I fought to start the Farm Flex program in the 2008 Farm Bill, and I successfully expanded it in the 2014 Farm Bill. I am proud to introduce this common sense legislation with my friend Senator Young that would give Indiana’s farmers the flexibility they need to make the best planting decisions.”
Young said, “Hoosier farmers should be afforded the flexibility to plant crops that work for them. I look forward to ensuring that our agriculture community has the proper tools to remain a leader in feeding the world. I am proud to join Senator Donnelly in support of this effort that benefits Hoosiers.”
Until the 2008 Farm Bill, the planting of fruits, vegetables and wild rice on program crop base acres was prohibited. The Farm Flex pilot program in the 2008 Farm bill provided farmers in seven states the ability to waive federal subsidies and the planting restrictions tied to those subsidies in order to produce specialty crops like fruits and vegetables. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded that idea, and now all farmers have the ability to voluntarily reduce payment acres on their farms in order to plant fruits and vegetables.