(June 22) While not exactly upping the ante compared with the House agriculture appropriations bill passed in May, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee did raise its commitment to block grants and the fruit and vegetable snack program compared with fiscal year 2006.

The fiscal 2007 Senate subcommittee bill passed June 20 contained $9 million in appropriations for six states funded last year, plus an additional $1 million each for California, Arkansas and Georgia, according to a news release from the United Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Association, Washington, D.C.

The appropriations funding is beyond the eight states that were given permanent funding of $9 million in the 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act.

While the Senate added $3 million and three states to the snack program compared with last year, it didn’t match the $25 million the House approved to expand the snack program to all 50 states.

Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for United, said the association will work with the House and Senate to expand funding for the snack program in the final conference bill.

DiSogra said at the same point in the appropriations process last year, the Senate had just added two states and the House had no additional money for the snack program.

When the fiscal year 2006 agriculture appropriations bill emerged from conference, the final result was six additional states and $6 million.

“This year we are in a much better place,” she said.

The Senate funding for specialty crop block grants was expanded but also not to the level of the House agriculture appropriations bill.

For fiscal 2007, the House Appropriations Committee in May approved $15 million for specialty crop block grants.

The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee voted for $10 million for block grants, an increase of $3 million over the $7 million in specialty crop block grants provided in fiscal year 2006.

The full Senate Appropriations Committee was expected to take up the bill June 22 and a conference between the House and Senate bills could be weeks away.

A member communication from United on June 20 said industry members who attend the United 2006 Washington Public Policy Conference will use the occasion to lobby members of Congress to expand the snack program to all 50 states.