Millions for California specialty crops, air quality improvements
Safety net for dairy farmers, provisions to modernize air tanker fleet
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded Senate passage of a five-year federal farm bill. The bill, already approved by the House of Representatives, now goes to the president for his signature.
The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act is a sweeping bill that includes policies covering farmers, rural communities, the environment, research, forests, nutrition and disaster assistance and includes significant benefits for California.
“California is home to the largest food and agriculture industry in the nation,” Senator Feinstein said. “We have more than 80,000 farms and produce half of the nation’s fruits, vegetable and nuts. This bill is a win for farmers and consumers, it invests in rural communities and agricultural research, takes key steps to reform wasteful spending and helps put food on the table for millions of Californians.”
Senator Feinstein added: “I fought for many of these provisions, including funds to improve air quality, millions of dollars for specialty crop research and provisions that will create a safety net for California dairy farmers and allow for the creation of a milk marketing order.
“While the farm bill does reduce funds for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the cuts are significantly less than those supported by the House. And while I am disappointed the cuts are not reinvested in hunger-reduction programs, I hope the reforms in the bill will lead to long-term improvement of the program. SNAP helps feed 4 million Californians, and I will continue to support funding for this vital program.
“I am especially pleased the final bill does not include the so-called ‘King Amendment.’ This destructive amendment would have overturned a wide range of California state laws that safeguard agricultural products. Not only was this amendment an attack on our state’s $44.7 billion agriculture sector, it also threatened the health and safety of all Californians. It was a dangerous policy, and I’m glad it was defeated.”
The farm bill will benefit California in the following ways:
•The nutrition title, which funds the food stamp program, represents a hard-fought compromise. While the bill cuts $8.6 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, these cuts are significantly less than the $40 billion reduction sought by House Republicans.
•Creates a safety net for California dairy farmers called the Margin Protection Program, which will provide targeted support when feed prices are high or milk prices are low, as well as the ability to petition USDA to create a federal milk marketing order.
•Includes a provision to direct the Forest Service to modernize its air tanker fleet for fighting forest fires in places like California.
•Contains funding for enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops, of which California will likely receive $21 million this year. Invests $125 million in citrus disease research and over $300 million in specialty crop pest and disease prevention.
•Contains $25 million in mandatory funding for air quality conservation—the majority of which is expected to go to California farmers—as well as conservation measures to protect pollinators like honeybees.
•Authorizes several critical disaster protection programs for livestock indemnity, livestock forage, trees, honeybees and farm-raised fish that are retroactive for losses from the ongoing drought.
•Contains strong crop insurance and risk management safety net for producers while eliminating wasteful direct payments.
•Contains approximately $400 million dollars in Payments In Lieu of Taxes, a program that invests in rural counties to offset the loss of potential tax-dollars from federal lands.
•Does not include the dangerous “King Amendment” that would have struck down California’s state agriculture laws for milk qualify, food safety, disease and pest control, and animal housing.