Valley Farmers and Families Win Big as Farm Bill Moves to Enactment
Washington, D.C. – The San Joaquin Valley will see significant benefits in this year’s Farm Bill, which cleared the final congressional hurdle to enactment today when passing in the House of Representatives.
Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) – senior member of the House Agriculture Committee, who also served on the Farm Bill Conference Committee that negotiated the final legislation – called on his colleagues to support the bill shortly before it passed today.
“As a member of the Farm Bill Conference Committee, I am proud to support this bipartisan, bicameral Farm Bill,” said Rep. Costa. “A third-generation farmer myself, I have the honor and privilege of representing one of the largest and most diverse agricultural regions in the world. This bill is good for the San Joaquin Valley, California agriculture, and farmers and families throughout the nation. It feeds Americans and supports our agriculture producers as they work to put food on dinner tables across the U.S. every night.” For video of Congressman Costa calling for the House to pass the Farm Bill, click here.
Rep. Costa was a leading advocate for including numerous programs crucial for Valley communities in the Conference Committee’s version of the Farm Bill, including support for fruit, vegetable, and nut producers, conservation programs, and nutrition assistance.
"The Farm Bill is a crucial piece of legislation for the Central Valley,” said Chairman Jerry O’Banion of the Merced County Board of Supervisors. “It not only affects farmers, but also impacts trade, rural development, and food and nutrition programs. The passage of this bill is a fine example of bipartisanship and what can be accomplished when lawmakers work together.”
More than half of America’s fruits and vegetables are grown in California, with the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance stating this version of the Farm Bill “represents positive policy changes for specialty crops.”
“We are pleased that the farm bill negotiators have completed their task as the 2018 Farm Bill acknowledges the growing importance of the specialty crop industry to American agriculture and offers real progress on many of our top priorities,” said Tom Nassif, President and CEO of Western Growers. “We applaud the committee leaders, conferees like Rep. Costa, and staff for their diligence in producing a strong, bipartisan farm bill.”
Included in the bill’s conservation programs is a strengthened Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which Valley farmers and conservation groups have used in cooperative projects to increase water quality, protect wildlife habitat, and improve farm operations. Congressman Costa introduced a standalone bill strengthening the RCPP in April, with numerous provisions now incorporated into the Farm Bill.
“Audubon’s partnership with California dairy farmers to protect Tricolored Blackbird populations would have been impossible without the Farm Bill and NRCS and impossible without champions like Congressman Costa,” said Audubon California’s Director of Land and Water Conservation, Meghan Hertel. “Increases in conservation funding in RCPP, ACEP, EQIP, and the Watershed Act in the 2018 Farm Bill build on the agency, landowner, and conservation partnerships that helped protect hundreds of thousands of birds over the last decade, while also providing landowners with the technical and financial assistance to make their operations profitable and ecologically sound. In addition to welcome funding boosts, we appreciate the improvements that allow for renewing successful projects and removing barriers to create new future partnerships.”
A principal point of contention in Farm Bill negotiations was provisions surround the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which approximately 25% of individuals living in California’s 16th Congressional District use to fight hunger and food insecurity. The final negotiations include no cuts to SNAP benefits, no changes to the already existing work requirements, and increased funding for voluntary SNAP Employment and Training programs like Fresno’s Bridge Academy.
“We applaud Representative Costa’s leadership on SNAP and other core nutrition issues that impact Valley residents in the Farm Bill,” said Rachel Tucker, Senior Policy Associate at California Association of Food Banks. “We are pleased that the conference report chooses to protect SNAP and invests in proven supports like SNAP Employment & Training that are so valuable to our efforts to reduce hunger and poverty as opposed to the harsh cuts proposed in the House bill that would have worsened hunger and hardship.”
“We are deeply appreciative of Congressman Costa’s relentless commitment to securing the funding to support SNAP beneficiaries becoming self-sufficient through voluntary employment and training programs at Fresno Bridge Academy and the other nine national pilots originally funded by the USDA under the 2014 Farm Bill,” said Pete Weber, Founder and Chair of the Fresno Bridge Academy.
The legislation is now headed to the President to sign into law.
For more on Valley victories in the Farm Bill, click here.