(April 23) The Specialty Crop Competition Act of 2007 was introduced April 19, adding momentum to the fresh produce industry’s push for broader funding in the 2007 farm bill. The companion bill is the EAT Healthy America Act, introduced in the House of Representatives on March 20.

The bill provides the framework to increase industry competitiveness and increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, said Robert Guenther, senior vice president of public policy at United Fresh Produce Association, Washington, D.C. in a statement issued April 19.

The primary co-sponsors of the Senate bill, S. 1160, were Sens. Larry Craig, R-Ida., and Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., with about 15 co-sponsors signing on, according to Jerry Hill, lobbyist with McDermott Will & Emery LLP, Washington, D.C.

“We have bills on both sides and now the fun starts,” said Hill, who lobbies on behalf of the National Potato Council.

Like the House bill, the Senate bill has a provision that adds food safety to the list of topics that can be addressed in marketing orders.

“This adds food safety to make it clear that the authority is there,” Hill said.

John Keeling, president of the Washington, D.C.-based National Potato Council, said that the Senate bill is very similar to the House bill.

“It’s a good start, and we have a good amount of original co-sponsors,” he said.