California is home to the largest food and agriculture industry in the nation. Senator Feinstein is working to ensure California remains a worldwide agricultural leader and the state’s farmers continue to feed the nation and world.
Championing a robust agriculture workforce
Senator Feinstein strongly supports providing California’s agriculture sector with the workers it needs to thrive.
The University of California-Davis estimates that up to 60 percent of California’s 421,000 farmworkers—approximately 253,000 people—are undocumented. This is why Senator Feinstein negotiated the agricultural worker program provisions that were in cluded in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, Immigration and Modernization Act, a bill that passed the Senate in 2013.
After the comprehensive immigration bill failed to pass the Republican-controlled House, Senator Feinstein introduced the negotiated language as a standalone bill to protect undocumented farmworkers who have worked in agriculture for at least 100 days over the previous two years. This legislation, which was introduced in January 2019, would allow farmworkers to obtain legal “blue card” status and eventually obtain “green card” status.
Senator Feinstein has also requested that the Department of Homeland Security exercise prosecutorial discretion with agricultural workers and instead focus on dangerous individuals.
Supporting specialty crops
California’s 81,000 farms produce half of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts, what are known as specialty crops.
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Feinstein works to secure a fair share of funding for California’s specialty crop farmers. She helped secure funding in the latest Farm Bill for organic research and labeling, conservation programs and increases in funding for producers to meet California’s ambient air quality standards.
Senator Feinstein also played a role in the passage of the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act, a bill that has improved access to foreign markets for U.S. specialty crops and created a safer and more secure domestic food supply.
Senator Feinstein also continues to speak out against the harmful effects of trade disputes with countries like Canada, Mexico and China that are particularly harmful to California’s farmers.
Promoting and safeguarding California agriculture
California growers produce nearly 70 percent of domestically-grown flowers. Senator Feinstein has promoted California’s cut flower industry and encouraged the use of domestically-grown flowers at White House events.
She also worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security to improve its agricultural inspections at U.S. ports of entry. Prior to her involvement, DHS inspections of agricultural products were ineffective and may have allowed a number of invasive pests to enter the country.
Ensuring a safe food supply
Senator Feinstein works to ensure the safety of our food supply and prevent outbreaks of food borne illness. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, she has been a consisten advocate for fully funding food safety programs.
Senator Feinstein supported the Food Safety Modernization Act to overhaul the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety system. She also urged the U.S. Department of Agriculture to draft standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry products.
Senator Feinstein pushed for a requirement that all producers include a “verification” step in their mandated food safety plans to allow the FDA to ensure the safety of food production.
She also led congressional efforts to end the use of the dangerous pesticide Methyl Iodide, which has been linked to miscarriage, thyroid disease and fetal deformity. It was pulled from the U.S. market in 2012.
Read more about food safety in this booklet: Food Safety: Safeguarding the Food We Eat From Farm to Table
Fighting the threat of antibiotic resistance
Preserving the effectiveness of antibiotics is one of Senator Feinstein’s top priorities.
The overuse of antibiotics in agriculture could contribute to the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, which is why she introduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act.
Senator Feinstein also pushed the FDA to begin a process to eliminate the use of antibiotics for non-therapeutic purposes in food animals. The FDA banned the use of antibiotics for growth-promotion purposes in 2017, a move that Senator Feinstein has long supported.