Farm bill finds Valley Ag support

Local Ag leaders hope the house and senate can pass a long overdue farm bill this week. A congressional vote is expected on Wednesday.
January 28, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Local Ag leaders hope the house and senate can pass a long overdue farm bill this week. A congressional vote is expected on Wednesday.

The farm bill sets ag and food policy for five-year periods. Debate over farmer subsidies and food stamps has been heated but lawmakers appear closer to reaching agreement.

Congressional negotiators agreed on a farm bill which slashes 23 billion dollars in federal spending. The food stamp program (SNAP) would see an eight billion dollar cut over the next decade.

California Grape and Tree Fruit League president Barry Bedwell is encouraged by what the farm bill does include for valley growers.

Bedwell said, "The reality is anything as big as this bill is a compromise. We look at trade issues. Things like market access programs, technical assistance for specialty crops. Those are going to remain consistent."

Fresno County Farm Bureau executive director Ryan Jacobsen was also supportive of the farm bill which will go before lawmakers.

Jacobsen said, "The two most significant impacts here locally is that we do have the air quality incentive funding, which helps to replace diesel engines. Secondarily the invasive species. It has additional funding to make sure that we continue to try to number one, keep these pests out. Number two, continue to fight the ones that unfortunately come into our ag industry."

Bedwell said out of $80 million slated for specialty crop research, $25 million would be used in the fight against the Asian citrus psyllid. The little pest could devastate the Valley citrus crop.

A farm bill provision from South Valley republican congressmen Devin Nunes and David Valadao was rejected. It called for increased pumping from the Delta and a halt to the San Joaquin River restoration.


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