New federal farm legislation passed today by the U.S. Senate includes many of the top priorities identified by the California Farm Bureau Federation.
The bill establishes federal policy on agricultural programs encompassing conservation, nutrition, commodities, trade, research, rural development and other topics. The Senate bill will be reconciled in conference committee with a farm bill passed by the House last week.
“The farm bill represents a five-year agreement between farmers and the American people,” CFBF President Jamie Johansson said. “We will encourage our representatives to meld the best elements of the House and Senate bills to create a modern farm bill that serves farmers, ranchers, rural Americans and everyone who depends on the nation’s agricultural production.”
Johansson noted that the bill preserves conservation programs important to California farmers and ranchers and maintains investments in trade development, organic agriculture and programs to aid production of specialty crops such as vegetables, nuts and fruits. He said the measure also encourages research into mechanization, which offers a partial remedy for ongoing employee shortages on farms and ranches.
“This commitment to research acknowledges the need for long-term solutions for agricultural labor needs, and at the same time creates resources to develop innovative ways to harvest and care for crops,” Johansson said.
“On the other hand, the bill isn’t perfect,” he added. “We would like to see an improved risk-management program for dairy farms and changes to eligibility requirements for conservation programs that would allow more California farmers and ranchers to participate. The federal government also needs to adjust its definition of the term ‘rural,’ so more California communities could qualify for programs to improve facilities in rural regions.”
Current federal farm legislation is due to expire in September.
The California Farm Bureau Federation works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of nearly 40,000 members statewide and as part of a nationwide network of more than 5.5 million Farm Bureau members.