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Ahead of Farm Bill, Alabama Senator Introduces Bill to Add Pecans to Senior Nutritional Program

This proposed legislation would add tree nuts to USDA’s Seniors’ Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program.

A barrel full of inshell pecans with a metal scooper resting on top of the nuts.
WASHINGTON—As Congress prepares to pass the next five-year Farm Bill, U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) today introduced the Farmers’ Market Expansion Act, a bill that would make pecans and other tree nuts eligible for the USDA’s Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP).

“I just spent the month of August with Alabama’s farmers to get ready to work on the next Farm Bill,” Coach Tuberville said. “After listening to Alabama farmers all across our state, I’m introducing legislation to expand their access to customers all across America. My bill would help low-income seniors afford to make pecans part of a well-balanced diet. This bill would be a win for our seniors, our farmers, and a big win for Alabama.”

The Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (SFMNP) provides fresh, nutritious, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, herbs, and honey to eligible low-income seniors. These seniors must be 60 years or older and have a household income of no more than 185% of the federal poverty level. Eligible seniors can exchange coupons for program products at farmers’ markets, roadside stands, and community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs. According to the USDA, in fiscal year 2022, the SFMNP had 757,751 seniors participate, and 15,089 farmers sold products through the program across the country. Annual program benefits vary per state between $20 and $50 per year, with over 54,000 eligible seniors in Alabama

According to the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS), common tree nuts are considered almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. With this legislation, these tree nuts would be eligible for the SFMNP.

Alabama is one of the country’s top pecan producers, with growers across the state harvesting approximately 3 million pounds across 9,000 pecan-bearing acres in 2022. According to the 2017 Census of Agriculture, Alabama had over 837 producers who harvested 8,840 pecan-bearing acres.

During recent Farm Bill listening sessions throughout Alabama, Sen. Tuberville had outreach from several pecan growers seeking to add pecans to the farmer’s market program.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries, Alabama Pecan Growers Association, National Pecan Federation, and Southeastern Pecan Growers Association all praised Sen. Tuberville’s efforts to expand the program for pecans and other tree nuts.

“Alabama is pecan proud! Pecans are a nutritional powerhouse containing good fats along with protein, fiber, essential minerals, and bioactive compounds,” said Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries Commissioner Rick Pate. “Adding pecans to the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program will allow our seniors to enjoy fresh Alabama-grown pecans and support our farmers.”

“The Alabama Pecan Growers Association is proud to represent the hardworking farmers in Alabama who produce top quality pecans for the consumers. Pecans were named, in 1982, the official state nut. Since pecans are the healthiest tree nut you can eat, adding pecans to the senior nutrition program would be a win for seniors and local growers,” said an Alabama Pecan Growers Association representative.

“The National Pecan Federation greatly appreciates Senator Tuberville’s work on this legislation to include tree nuts in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program. Pecans, which are the only major tree nut indigenous to North America, are extremely nutritious. Including pecans in the SFMNP will help pecan producers by opening new markets while giving consumers improved access to a healthy and delicious product,” said Larry Don Womack, Chairman of the National Pecan Federation.

“The Southeastern Pecan Growers Association supports Senator Tuberville’s Farmers’ Market Expansion Act. Including pecans and other tree nuts in the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program will benefit pecan growers across the Southeast by adding a new market for their product,” said Lanair Worsham, President of the Southeastern Pecan Growers Association (SEPGA). “Pecans, which are low in carbs and high in dietary fiber, are a nutritious snack option for consumers. SEPGA appreciates the work Senator Tuberville is doing to promote pecans by including them in the SFMNP.”

Author Photo

Office of U.S. Sen. Tommy Tuberville

Senator Tommy Tuberville was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2020 and is currently serving his first term representing Alabama. However, his constituents still know him as Coach Tuberville, following his 40-year career coaching college football.