Bill to Allow More Produce Planting on Base Acres
If passed, a new bill would allow grain crop farmers to grow fruits and vegetables on more of their farm program base acres. With the goal of attaching the legislation to the next farm bill, Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., and Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., cosponsored legislation called “Feeding America through Farm Flexibility Act of 2017.” The proposed law would allow grain farmers to plant an additional 5% of their commodity crop base acres to vegetables if the extra harvest is sold or donated into a food desert with a poverty rate of at least 20%, according to the text of the bill. Planting additional fruits and vegetables on base acres wouldn’t result in a reduction in payment acres, as long as the crops are solely grown for sale or donation, “directly or indirectly by the producer and with or without processing, in a food desert.”
Under the Agricultural Act of 2014, farmers can already plant 15% of their base acres to vegetables if enrolled in the county-level price loss coverage (PLC) or county agriculture risk coverage (ARC) and up to 35% if enrolled in the individual farm-level ARC program. The proposed legislation bumps the allowed levels up to 20% for county-level programs and 40% for individual ARC, if growers meet the requirements to serve food deserts from the extra 5%.