The five-year federal farm bill signed into law today by President Obama will enhance food production and natural resources in California, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation. Farm Bureau President Paul Wenger said the law includes a number of conservation programs to share costs of stewardship work performed on farms and ranches.
For example, the Air Quality Initiative in the farm bill allows farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to participate in a cost-share program to help them upgrade equipment, decrease emissions and address federal air quality regulations. Securing continued funding for the program was a key priority for CFBF during farm bill negotiations this year, and Wenger said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, played a crucial role in assuring the Air Quality Initiative remained in the final version of the bill.
“This was a true team effort involving several members of the California congressional delegation, and Kevin McCarthy proved instrumental in the final discussions,” Wenger said. “As a result, the Air Quality Initiative will continue to benefit air quality both in California and elsewhere in the nation.”
Wenger thanked the leaders of the House and Senate agriculture committees, California members of the House committee and Sen. Dianne Feinstein for their efforts to bring the lengthy farm bill discussions to conclusion. He noted that the new farm law reauthorizes and strengthens livestock disaster assistance programs at a time with California ranchers face severe losses due to drought, and renews other emergency programs.
Nutrition assistance remains the single largest component of the bill. The new law also authorizes investments in research on “specialty crops” such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, and on programs to encourage people to eat more of those foods. Wenger said those programs will benefit both farmers and food shoppers in California.
“The ultimate goal for farmers and ranchers is to grow food and farm products that our customers need, while sustaining our land and our businesses for future generations,” he said. “This new farm law will help us to achieve that goal.”
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.