A farm bill listening session was recently held in California, allowing industry members to voice needs and concerns as Congress works on the 2023 Farm Bill. Hosted and chaired by House Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Jim Costa, the event was held at California State University, Fresno. Drought conditions, ongoing labor challenges, and supply chain disruptions were consistent concerns highlighted throughout the event.
In his testimony, California Farm Bureau President Jamie Johansson spoke to the value of crop insurance and disaster programs. Noting that only about 80 of the 400 commodities produced in California fit within a crop insurance program, Johansson stressed the need for a more suitable program for California producers. “We really encourage them to continue to expand the crop insurance program as really the one solid risk management tool we have in agriculture and to take in the diversity that is California,” said Johansson.
President and CEO of American Pistachio Growers, Richard Matoian also provided testimony during the farm bill listening session. He highlighted not only the impact of ongoing drought and the need for federal intervention but also the need to support American ag exports. Matoian, along with others, pointed to the Market Access Program as having tremendous potential but needing increased funding support. “We are asking for it to be doubled from $200 million to $400 million because we are in a global marketplace. We need to build demand in these foreign markets, and we definitely see an opportunity,” Matoian explained.
Fresno County Agricultural Commissioner Melissa Cregan spoke on behalf of the California Agricultural Commissioners and Sealers Association (CACASA). She noted that pest prevention has been a historically underfunded area of previous farm bills and is worthy of increased support. Cregan encouraged increasing funding for the Plant Protection and Quarantine Program, along with providing a more stable source of funding for agricultural canine teams.
“As California looks to move to less pesticides and those sorts of things, controlling invasive species and not letting them get into California is going to become increasingly more important,” Cregan told AgNet West. “So that’s why it’s really a priority for me as the Fresno County Ag Commissioner, but also for CACASA and all the ag commissioners throughout the state.”
Congressman Costa said that hosting a farm bill listening session in the San Joaquin Valley is essential for ensuring California producers are heard and considered. Costa noted that the needs of California, being the number-one agricultural state in the nation, clearly need to be incorporated in the 2023 Farm Bill.
“This listening session was important to allow people to not to have to go to Washington, but to come here in a much more central place at Fresno State University,” Costa noted. “The fact is, is this is one of the premiere ag schools in the country. So, it’s fitting and appropriate that we hold this listening session where so much of the future farmers, ranchers, and dairymen and women will get their graduate degrees from and go on and be a part of putting food on America’s dinner table.”