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WASHINGTON -- The Senate has yet to convene this year, but Congress is already busy introducing legislation to help fruit and vegetable businesses play a role in beating back the obesity epidemic.

U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) said Jan. 26 that he planned to reintroduce the Healthier Lifestyles & Prevention Act, a bill to integrate health and wellness into schools, communities and grocery stores. Among the provisions, the bill would provide fresh fruits and vegetables to all low-income elementary schools and expand U.S. Department of Agriculture's Farm-to-School program to childcare providers.

U.S. Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA) is taking a different approach to the obesity epidemic, one that would promote more fresh fruit and vegetable production in America through the use of tax incentives.

The Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Grower Tax Incentive Act would amend the Internal Revenue Code to allow for a $10,000 tax credit to farmers whose annual farming income is less than $500,000, with at least 75 percent of that farming income being attributable to the sale of fruits and vegetables.

"This responsible bill provides incentives that will increase the number of fruit and vegetable growers in America, and help to end the food access crisis that is negatively affecting the health of our nation," Rep. Baca in a Jan. 19 statement.

The bill is aimed at reducing the number of so-called food deserts, communities where there is limited access to healthy foods.