Hundreds of interest groups, trade associations, environmentalists and even a few farmers are submitting their ideas for a new farm bill to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. Not to be outdone, representatives of key California departments have submitted their own 2023 farm bill recommendations in a letter to committee leaders.

As the nation’s largest agricultural producer and exporter, state leaders pointed out that the Golden State “plays a vital role in our national economy and the health of our citizens.”

“California’s recommendations reflect the vital role that our state’s farmers and ranchers proudly play in our national economy and in the health of our citizens, as well as the importance of continued management of risks due to the volatility presented by climate change and other threats to our land, our food and our future,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross in a blog post.  

She was joined on the letter by her counterparts at the California Environmental Protection Agency, the Natural Resources Agency, the Health and Human Services Agency, and the Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency. 

The recommendations represent input from more than 100 diverse stakeholder organizations, five statewide public listening sessions and contributions from state government agencies, according to the letter. 

Don’t miss a beat! It’s easy to sign up for a FREE month of Agri-Pulse news! For the latest on what’s happening in Washington, D.C. and around the country in agriculture, just click here.

One key highlight: “Without exception there was strong support for keeping the nutrition title as part of the Farm Bill.”

The full document contained few surprises. There was heavy emphasis on specialty crops and organics, but also a call to strengthen the farm safety net for all commodities and dairymen. For example, California recommended:

  • Allow farmers to receive commodity program payments in the same year for which the support is provided. 
  • Improve the Price Loss Coverage Program to reflect higher costs of production.
  • Expand eligibility for Dairy Margin Coverage payments and modify the feed formula to account for regional differences in feed costs.
  • Maintain supplemental agricultural disaster assistance programs and enhance
     program eligibility for drought conditions specifically within the Livestock Indemnity
  • Permanently authorize the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP).
  • Maintain and enhance the Supplemental Coverage Option in crop insurance for a variety of
     specialty crops.
  • Provide enhanced crop insurance coverage for organic feedstocks.
  • Reduce crop insurance premiums or provide other program incentives for
     farmers who are "partnering in regulatory programs and/or undertaking voluntary steps to
     meet regulatory goals to mitigate the spread of Broomrape species."

There was also a call to increase funding for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program and provide a “clear and transparent process for USDA to consider new commodities for inclusion in the program.” On exports, recommendations included increasing Market Access Program funding to $400 million annually and Foreign Market Development Program to $69 million annually with the increase phased in at $46.9 million over the five years. 

Another focus was on the need to address the lack of high-speed internet access in the state, as well as upgrade the electrical grid and provide safe drinking water in underserved areas.

“Farm Bill rural development programs are a critical component of addressing the state’s equity gap,” the letter said. 

The full document is available here

For more news, go to: