The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) has been hosting a series of farm bill listening sessions. Comments that are provided will be considered as part of California’s Farm Bill priorities letter. Approximately 40 individuals attended the most recent session held at the Fresno County Farm Bureau. CDFA Secretary Karen Ross, Undersecretary Christine Birdsong, and California Environmental Protection Agency Undersecretary Serena Mcilwain heard from dozens of industry stakeholders during the event. Ross told AgNet West that there have been some common themes that have been brought up during the listening sessions.
“The EQIP program in particular, but conservation programs generally keep coming up because every farmer I talk to nowadays talks about ‘we have to do more with less.’ With the changing climate, the changing costs, the water situation, and drought,” Ross noted. “So that’s been a very, very strong theme.”
Representatives from the California Fresh Fruit Association, Fresno County Farm Bureau, and Western Agricultural Processors Association were among those who provided comments during the session. Several farmers also spoke about the need to adjust the language in the farm bill to better fit the needs of smaller operations and provide better access to farm bill programs. Other speakers also brought up the issue of supporting nutritional programs and improving export markets damaged over the past few years.
“Then it was interesting for me today how many folks talked about research. Research for automation. Research for all the invasive species that we have and making sure we’re prepared for that. Research about emerging threats because of wildfire and smoke taint,” said Ross. “So, all in all, really great comments; really thoughtful comments.”
CDFA will hold two more in-person farm bill listening sessions. One of the events is scheduled for September 7, at Urban Tilth North Richmond Farm. An additional listening session will be held on September 13 at the North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido. Spanish translation will be available at the September 13 session. Public comments on farm bill priorities can also be submitted to CDFA via email.