Farm bill inaction worries Valley growers

FRESNO, Calif.

The 2008 farm bill has now expired but an extension has been granted to keep funding intact for many programs.

Barry Bedwell of the California Grape and Tree Fruit League just returned from Washington DC to urge lawmakers to work on the Farm Bill and immigration reform.

Bedwell said local farmers would be impacted if the farm bill is not reauthorized.

Bedwell explained, "Certain programs in the Farm Bill like the Specialty Crop Research Initiative will not be funded and as a result there are going to some of the gains that we made basically for consumers and making sure they're eating more fruits and vegetables - that could be lost."

Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League said the budget battle and the lack of focus on the Farm Bill poses problems in the battle against destructive pests like the Asian citrus psyllid.

Cunha said, "Like the '08 farm bill that we passed it would the same farm bill that we're going to be working on right now. So you don't add any programs. You don't delete any programs. It's just status quo."

Bedwell worried a lengthy stalemate could cause consumer prices for produce and milk could to spike.

Bedwell said, "Even if you talk to the dairy people, even there was a tremendous increase in price, it could only be short-lived because at this point consumers are going to be turned off by the product."

It is a scenario Valley food producers fear.

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