Top priorities for California farmers and ranchers have been achieved in the federal farm bill that appears headed for final action in Congress this week. The California Farm Bureau Federation said a conference committee report issued today removes a farm bill amendment that would have harmed California egg farmers and other farmers, and retains programs to benefit animal health, air quality and pest prevention.
“This has been a long negotiation on the farm bill and it’s now time for Congress to support the final bill and send it to the president,” CFBF President Paul Wenger said.
Wenger noted that, with California suffering from severe drought, the bill would also restore programs intended to help farmers and ranchers during such emergencies.
“We’re pleased to see the proposed farm bill include emergency livestock assistance and other programs,” Wenger said, “and we urge quick action to restore the aid and distribute it to farmers and ranchers who qualify for it.”
One of the most controversial aspects of the bill was an amendment offered by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, that would have prevented California and other states from setting customized standards for foods and agricultural products. The amendment—which was not included in the conference committee bill—was directed specifically at a California law that will require imported eggs sold in the state to meet Proposition 2 hen-housing standards.
“Although the debate about the King amendment focused on eggs, the amendment threatened other state-specific standards to prevent pests and diseases that threaten California crops,” Wenger said. “This issue should be settled in court and not through broad legislation that would have had far-reaching impacts.”
Wenger also expressed satisfaction with funding in the farm bill for the National Animal Laboratory Health Network; for “specialty crop” programs that focus on research, marketing and pest-and-disease prevention for fruit, vegetable, nut and nursery crops; and for dedicated air-quality funding.
“The Air Quality Initiative shares costs with farmers and ranchers who are working to meet strict air-quality standards in California and many other states,” he said. “It represents an important commitment to help farmers achieve meaningful stewardship successes.”
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 78,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 6.2 million Farm Bureau members.