WASHINGTON, DC -- In an effort to overhaul crop subsidies, protect Rhode Island's remaining farmland, and increase consumer access to healthy, locally grown food, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) is joining with Senators Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) in supporting the bipartisan Farm, Ranch, Equity, Stewardship and Health (FRESH) Act. The FRESH Act would replace out-dated federal farm subsidies with a reformed insurance program for all American farmers, regardless of what they grow or where they farm. It would also increase funding for nutrition and renewable energy initiatives and programs that benefit producers of fruits and vegetables.

"The FRESH Act is a pro-farmer, pro-consumer, pro-nutrition initiative that will help protect Rhode Island's open spaces and save taxpayers money. The current subsidy program has channeled billions of dollars to big corporate agri-businesses which do not need federal funds. By saving billions in farm payments, the FRESH Act will free up $16 billion over five years in critical funding for vital nutrition, conservation, and energy programs," said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. "Instead of just providing subsidies to farmers who don't need them, the FRESH Act would benefit more local growers by offering revenue insurance to all farmers who need it."

In introducing the bill, Senator Lugar, a family farmer and member of the Agriculture Committee, noted that over the past ten years, six percent of American farms have received more than 70 percent of federal farm subsidies, which adds up to $120 billion. And subsidy programs have spurred farm consolidation, violated international trade agreements, and still leave most farmers heavily exposed to risk.

"I am pleased to join Senator Lugar and Senator Lautenberg in supporting commodity reforms and crop insurance tools that would help improve nutrition and better protect Rhode Island's farmers against disaster," concluded Reed.

Over five years the FRESH Act would invest over $6 billion for environmental and conservation programs such as farmland and grassland protection; over $4 billion for hunger relief efforts, including major improvements to the Food Stamp Program; $3 billion in additional funds to help reduce the federal deficit; $2 billion to improve Americans' diet and overall health by making local, organic foods more widely available, especially for children; over $1.5 billion to support renewable energy investments; and $1.5 billion for specialty crop farmers to expand markets and improve farm products.