At a time of declining commodity prices, trade disputes and regulatory uncertainty, the California Farm Bureau Federation endorsed the federal farm bill adopted today by the U.S. Senate, and urged quick passage by the House of Representatives.
“With its provisions for nutrition programs as well as farm programs, the farm bill is important in the city as well as on the farm,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “We thank Senators Feinstein and Harris for voting for it, and will urge California congressional members to follow suit.”
Johansson said the bill makes a number of improvements to conservation programs, including the popular Environmental Quality Incentives Program. It continues specific programs for fruit, vegetable, nut and nursery producers, as well as initiatives to benefit organic farming. The bill will also enhance trade programs to encourage exports of American farm goods.
“Farm exports support jobs in rural California, of course, but also in marketing and transportation companies located in our big cities,” Johansson said. “Programs that help California food and farm products reach more customers will boost jobs at ports and warehouses as well as at farms and packinghouses.”
He said Farm Bureau also welcomes farm bill programs to protect animal agriculture from catastrophic diseases, to allow dairy farmers to enroll in risk-management programs and to increase crop-insurance flexibility.
“The farm bill also invests in agricultural research, including studies of ways to mechanize more on-farm tasks,” Johansson said. “Farmers and ranchers face chronic problems in hiring enough qualified people, so this sort of technological research will be closely watched.”
But Johansson said CFBF was disappointed the final bill did not do more to improve wildfire prevention and forest management.
“Given the terrible impact of wildfires in California and elsewhere in the West, we need to manage our forests and wildlands better, and we will be advocating for that in the next Congress,” he said.
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 36,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of nearly 5.6 million Farm Bureau members.