Dec 11 2018
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement after the Senate passed a new farm bill:
“The farm bill is a big win for all Californians. It invests in the crops we grow to help boost our economy, protects important nutrition programs that feed millions of American families, gives the Forest Service new tools to prevent and combat deadly wildfires and rejects harmful environmental riders.
“California is the largest agricultural state in the country. We need a farm bill that works for Californian crops, and that’s exactly what this farm bill does. It helps our farmers stay competitive by increasing funding for specialty and organic crop research to develop healthier and more efficient growing methods.
“It also addresses the new challenges that are being created by climate change, including the increasingly devastating wildfires we’re now seeing. As we continue to recover from the worst wildfire season on record, the bill will allow the U.S. Forest Service to work with California to expedite the removal of dead trees from our forests and reduce the risk of deadly wildfire in our communities.
“This farm bill also ensures the food our farmers grow ends up on kitchen tables. It blocks the harmful riders that would have made it harder for families to qualify for SNAP benefits, often referred to as food stamps, and other valuable nutrition programs.
“The farm bill makes it easier for California farmers to continue feeding our nation, and I’m proud to support it.”
- Does NOT include any of the House Republicans’ drastic policy changes to nutrition programs, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. More than 4 million Californians rely on SNAP benefits and the program is critical in reducing hunger and poverty.
- Does NOT include the King amendment, which would have undermined California’s strong animal welfare laws.
- Extends the existing prohibition of animal fighting to U.S. territories, bans the slaughter and trade of dogs and cats for human consumption, and includes the Pet and Women Safety Act, which extends protections to pets of survivors of domestic violence.
- Reauthorizes programs that support specialty crops, including the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative and the Noninsured Crop Assistance Program.
- Requires the Department of Agriculture to establish specialty crop liaisons in regional USDA offices.
- Increases funding for organics, including permanent funding for organic research. It also continues funding the Organic Cost-Share Program and strengthens oversight of organic labeling.
- Preserves funding for major conservation programs and increases the carve-out to help producers meet California’s Ambient Air Quality Standards to $37.5 million. It also strengthens assistance to Western states for drought mitigation.
- Includes additional support for dairy insurance and risk coverage, expands coverage options for dairy farmers. It also refunds premiums paid under an old program that didn’t work for most farmers.
- Includes provisions to promote forest health on federal, state and private land, and continues programs that remove dead or dying trees close to homes and infrastructure, and encourages new markets for wood products to help fund dead-tree removal.
- Reauthorizes key export programs and includes an additional $500 million in funding to help producers export more products and gain market share in foreign countries.
- Makes it easier for tribes to access conservation programs, helps develop native foods, creates new scholarships for tribal students to attend land-grant universities and makes it easier for tribal colleges to access funds to conduct extension activities.
- Strengthens the future of rural communities by expanding high-speed internet access, fighting the opioid crisis through telemedicine and community health facility investments and improving rural drinking water infrastructure.