USDA Secretary Perdue Testifies Before House Committee on Agriculture
Posted On: May 19, 2017
In his first appearance before the House Committee on Agriculture to testify on the “State of the Rural Economy”, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue reiterated the critical role that farmers markets play in providing Americans access to fresh, healthy, American-grown produce.
Fielding a question on how USDA is seeking to better meet the nutritional needs of low-income Americans, Secretary Perdue discussed the opportunities afforded by programs including the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program, a grant program supporting projects to increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low-income consumers participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Perdue assured Congress that USDA was committed to ensuring that “those people in areas where food is not readily available have access, be it at local farmers markets and certainly to be able to use their supplemental nutrition assistance benefits.“
Later in his testimony, Secretary Perdue stated his opposition to restricting what items may be purchased with SNAP benefits, but added “our desire as parents and grandparents is that people who take advantage of SNAP would use them for healthy food products…I think we try to do this through education and allowing SNAP to be used at local farmers markets.”
In 2016 more than $20 million in SNAP benefits were redeemed at America’s farmers markets. Additionally, the FINI program led to tens of millions of additional servings of fruits and vegetables and drove quantifiable dietary change among program participants.
Secretary Perdue also discussed the controversial decision to do away with the Rural Development (RD) Mission Area, agencies, and Under Secretary. FMC maintains concerns that this reorganization will be detrimental to the economic growth of rural communities.