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

Jun 23, 2021 Page

Dear Friend,

With the drought upon us, I’m focused on dealing with the short-term challenges and the long-term solutions to fixing our broken water system. As a third-generation farmer, I know personally where water flows, food grows. Here are some highlights on legislative actions that we are working on behalf of the Valley:

Responding to California's worsening drought crisis

Jun 10, 2021 Press Release

FRESNO – In an effort to ensure socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers have equal access to federal resources, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture, held a virtual event for African American, Hispanic, Indian and other disadvantaged farming communities from the San Joaquin Valley to meet  with officials about how to take advantage of federal programs:

May 17, 2021 Press Release

(WASHINGTON) – Congressman Jim Costa sent a letter to the State Water Resources Control Board about the need for a balanced approach towards municipal, agricultural, and environmental water use in any response to California’s worsening drought crisis.

The letter reads in part:

May 12, 2021 Press Release

(WASHINGTON) -  At a time when California is facing severe drought conditions that triggered Governor Gavin Newsom’s declaring a state of emergency and providing more than $5 billion dollars for water infrastructure and drought response funding, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) introduced bipartisan legislation to address California water supply and water quality goals:

May 6, 2021 Press Release

Letter to key House leaders signed by 13 farm district Democrats urges House leadership to exempt family farms from any changes to ‘stepped-up basis’

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.