Exclusive: California agriculture industry backs Costa for House Ag chair

Nov 12, 2020
In The News

A broad coalition of California agriculture groups are preparing to publicly back Rep. Jim Costa's bid to lead the House Agriculture Committee, adding a new element into the competitive race to be chair.

More than 60 statewide organizations, in a letter set to be released Friday, will declare their support for Costa (D-Calif.), making the case that he's the best person to take over the committee after current Chair Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) lost his reelection. Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.), the most senior member of the committee, is also in the running and earned Peterson's endorsement earlier this week.

The letter sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is signed by the California Farm Bureau Federation, Western Growers Association, African American Farmers of California and the California Cattlemen's Association, among others.

The argument: Costa's supporters note that he represents an area that "is a microcosm of the American food system and is also one of its linchpins." California's 16th Congressional District is located at the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, and its farms are top producers of a variety of crops, dairy and livestock. Additionally, about 25 percent of people in Costa's district receive food stamp benefits.

"At the same time, Congressman Costa also represents many small and medium sized towns that are emblematic of rural towns across America and face distinct challenges of their own," the letter reads.

"All these factors combine to give Congressman Costa a particularly unique perspective on how we can harness the great strengths of our agricultural system to both grow and nourish our communities."

The letter also cites Costa's work pushing for legislation to address the agricultural labor shortage, as well as support for increasing funding for USDA's conservation programs.

"He understands what science and logic tell us: our working lands — primarily farms, ranches and forests — are the main weapons in our arsenal against the externalities brought about by a changing climate.