Costa Cheers End of Long Farm Bill Road

Washington, DC — Rep. Jim Costa, the highest ranking Californian on the House Agriculture Committee, supported a long-overdue compromise Farm Bill that delivers many victories for the state’s farmers, livestock, and dairy producers. As a member of the conference committee that negotiated with the Senate, Costa fought to protect programs that are critical to California agriculture such as specialty crop investments, drought assistance programs, and air quality mitigation efforts. The Senate must now approve the Farm Bill Conference Report before it heads to the President for his signature.

“As the leading agriculture state in the country, California is a big winner in this Farm Bill,” said Costa. “Though this is not a perfect bill, the agreement is the result of more than three years of bipartisan negotiations, two marathon committee mark-ups, and multiple floor debates. From investing in the healthy fruits and vegetables we grow to renewing the disaster relief programs that help farmers and producers during difficult times, this bill gives Valley agriculture many of the tools we need to keep feeding the nation.

“This has been a long road with many repeats, but today the House put jobs and the economic security of rural Americans before partisan politics.”

The bipartisan compromise Farm Bill that cleared the House today contained many victories for Valley farmers and producers. These include among others:

  • Renews agriculture disaster assistance programs that help farmers, ranchers, and dairy producers keep their operations afloat during difficult times such as the current drought in California.
  • $550 million over 10 years for the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) to encourage the development of new technologies and improved efficiencies in the production of specialty crops, plus $25 million for emergency citrus disease research.
  • $800 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grants Program over 10 years to strengthen the market for the specialty crops we grow in our Valley like fruits, vegetables, and nuts.
  • $700 million over 10 years to prevent the introduction and spread of plant pests and diseases.
  • Expansion of Risk Management options for specialty crops and underserved commodities.
  • Maintains level funding ($1.75 billion) for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) with a 25 million dollar carve out for air quality mitigation that assists farmers with upgrades that improve Valley air.

The legislation also included a provision that would allow California the opportunity to enter the Federal Milk Marketing Order. Costa has long advocated giving producers the chance to petition the U.S. Agriculture Secretary for entrance into the Federal Order.

The final language failed to resolve the meat labeling issue that put ranchers and poultry producers business at risk with important trade partners. During floor debate, Costa announced that he will be introducing legislation to fix this labeling problem once and for all in the coming weeks.

The final conference report also rolled back efforts to make an extreme $40.5 million cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that provides critical food assistance to low-income families and seniors. Costa also fought and succeeded in blocking the inclusion of a provision that would have undermined California law and put the state’s egg industry at a competitive disadvantage.

Congressman Costa serves as the Ranking Member on Subcommittee on Livestock, Rural Development, and Credit. He has been a strong advocate for passing a Farm Bill that will modernize the nation’s agriculture policies and provide certainty to Valley agriculture, the economic engine of the region.  Raised on a dairy farm in the Kearney Park area, Costa is a third-generation family farmer.