Costa: Farm Bill Shows We Can Work Together

Washington, DC — Rep. Jim Costa applauded President Obama’s signing of the Farm Bill which marks the end of a more than 3 year contentious debate about the nation’s farm and nutrition policies. As a member of the conference committee that was tasked with crafting compromise legislation, Costa worked with his Democratic and Republican colleagues to find middle ground on political and regional interests.  For California, Costa fought to protect programs that are critical to the state’s agriculture such as specialty crop investments, drought assistance programs, and air quality mitigation efforts.

“We hit a lot of bumps in this debate, but we finally finished the job when we rolled up our sleeves and sat down together,” said Costa. “As partisan interests raged and outside groups weighed in, it seemed at times like we might never see this day. This bill is not perfect, but it is a good faith compromise that protects low-income families and seniors while maintaining the support America’s farmers need to keep feeding the nation.

“This day shows that Congress is still capable of putting the interests of our constituents above the partisan noise.”

The bipartisan compromise Farm Bill that was signed into law 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.

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.