Protecting Valley Agriculture

As a third generation family farmer, I know first-hand the daily challenges our farmers and ranchers face. Agriculture is our way of life and the viability of our region depends on this industry to create jobs and economic opportunity. This is why I have made protecting and growing Valley agriculture a top priority.

Securing a stable supply of water for our farmers and farm communities is central to supporting Valley agriculture. To make sure our farmers have the water they need to put food on America’s dinner table and put people back to work, I have pressed the Administration to increase our water allocations, secured federal funding for Valley water projects, and fought the flawed federal regulations that limit the water flowing to our region. Our work to secure our fair share is far from over, but we have made progress. To learn more about my fight for Valley water, click here.

Along with fighting for water, I have worked to ensure that our government recognizes the vital role Valley agriculture plays in our national economy. Our Valley is the leading producer of specialty crops which include tree nuts, fruits, dried fruits, and vegetables. For too long, the Valley did not receive its fair share of federal funds for these kinds of crops. To fix this, I worked with other Valley leaders to secure $1.7 billion for specialty crops in the 2008 Farm Bill. This was a win for our local economy and success we can build on.

A critical part of Valley agriculture is our dairy industry.  In 2009, dairy farms throughout the Valley and nation experienced one of the worst price crises of the last 40 years. America’s roughly 65,000 dairies lost over $12 billion. Sharp losses forced dairy farmers to lay off workers and, in many cases, shutter their operations. To protect Valley jobs and help the dairy industry get back on track, I introduced the Dairy Price Stabilization Act. My plan  would promote market stability and individual dairy farmers’ ability to grow their own business.

I have also worked to reduce some of regulatory burdens placed on Valley farmers and ranchers. Part of my work during the 2008 Farm Bill was to secure addition funding through the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to help farmers convert equipment to newer engines that meet air quality standards and water funding that helped growers install drip irrigation systems. I also support fully repealing the estate tax and have supported legislation that would exempt family farms and ranches from this burden. I know from personal experience the difficulty of protecting your family farm when a family member passes away.

I speak with our Valley’s farmers and ranchers on a daily basis to discuss what we can do to strengthen our agriculture industry. Being in close contact has allowed me to respond quickly to our Valley’s needs. When the European Grapevine Moth was detected in our Valley, I was able to press the USDA to release $2.75 million to help our farmers combat this foreign pest. These funds helped mitigate some of the economic impact it had on our summer harvest.

These are only a few examples of my work on behalf of Valley farmers and ranchers. Whether it is fighting for more water, securing additional funding, or advocating for expanding trade opportunities, I will continue to work to help our agriculture economy grow.

More on Protecting Valley Agriculture

Apr 21, 2021 Press Release

FRESNO – Congressman Jim Costa released the following statement in response to Governor Gavin Newsom’s drought emergency declaration:

Apr 20, 2021 In The News

There are a number of factors to consider when declaring a state of emergency. After a dry water year, little to zero water allocations, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack declaring drought conditions in counties up and down the state and even the entire republican delegation sending letters Governor Gavin Newsom, Congressman Jim Costa said declaring drought can be tricky.

“Certainly the governor has the ability to declare a drought status but its tricky to understand the state and federal water projects, how they operate.” Costa said.

Apr 15, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) and Senator Diane Feinstein, along with  Representatives John Garamendi (CA-03) and Josh Harder (CA-10) today introduced the bipartisan Canal Conveyance Capacity Restoration Act, a bill to authorize more than $653 million to restore the capacity of three S

Apr 6, 2021 Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), Chair of Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and Agriculture Committee Members Rep. Dusty Johnson (Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, with Rep. Salud Carbajal (Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation) and Rep.

Mar 25, 2021 Press Release


FRESNO – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), Chairman of Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, participated in a hearing with United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to discuss the detrimental impact of longstanding, systemic discrimination against Black, Southeast Asian, Hispanic and other socially disadvantaged farmers in the San Joaquin Valley.

Mar 20, 2021 In The News

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif (KSEE).- On Thursday the U.S. House passed two major immigration bills: one bill would grant permanent resident status to migrant farm workers, the other major bill, the American Dream and Promise Act of 2021, would provide permanent resident status and a path to citizenship for those brought to the U.S. as children, and who are temporarily protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. Central Valley congressman Jim Costa has been a proponent of this bill with Democratic House leadership. 

Mar 18, 2021 In The News

The year 2020 was unlike any in our lifetime. The COVID-19 pandemic challenged us in ways we never thought possible. Paired with the prospect of another drought, this year looks to be just as challenging for our ag communities. As a ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee, I remain committed to ensuring they have the resources needed to weather this once in a lifetime crisis: A skilled workforce and reliable water supply.

Mar 9, 2021 Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – Congressmen Jim Costa (CA-16) and Adrian Smith (R-NE), along with Representatives Rodney Davis (R-IL), John Garamendi (D-CA), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Troy Nehls (R-TX), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Mike Thompson (D-CA), led a bipartisan group of colleagues in a letter to Michael A. Khouri, Chair of the Federal Maritime Commission, voicing concern over reports that certain vessel-operating common carriers (VOCCs) are declining to ship U.S. agricultural commodity exports from U.S. ports.

Feb 23, 2021 Press Release

(FRESNO) - Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after the Bureau of Reclamation announced its initial 2021 water supply allocation for Central Valley Project contractors: 

Feb 9, 2021 Press Release

(FRESNO) – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) along with California Representatives Jimmy Panetta (D-20), led a group of California Congressional members in a letter to Governor Newsom to ensure outreach to farmworkers as part of the State of California’s Phase 1B distribution p