A new bill, known as the Fresh Produce Procurement Reform Act, aims to allow local and regional supply chains the opportunity to distribute U.S.-grown fresh produce to those in need. The bill was introduced by U.S. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03) and David G. Valadao (R-CA-22), along with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
If passed, the legislation would require USDA to collaborate with growers, distributors, and food hubs to offer fresh, U.S.-grown fruits and vegetables to community organizations, including youth organizations, schools, tribal governments, and local food pantries. It would also prioritize socially disadvantaged farmers and entities, regional food inequities, and local and regional food systems.
The Fresh Produce Procurement Act would also provide greater opportunities for a variety of high-quality produce sourced, packed, and distributed from new growers and distributors, such as women-owned, and socially disadvantaged members of the agriculture community. “This bill not only helps our neighbors in need, but it also helps our domestic agriculture sector by ensuring the produce they grow is being put to good use,” said Rep. Valadao.
The sponsors of the bill note that USDA’s current food procurement model makes it challenging for highly perishable fresh fruits and vegetables to be promptly procured and delivered to the community and, as of now, food options are limited to five fresh produce varieties. They expect the legislation to strengthen access to a wide variety of U.S.-grown fresh fruits and vegetables to recipients in need by including at least seven types of U.S.-grown fresh fruits in vegetables to vulnerable communities living in poverty.