January 12th, 2017
California is the largest producer of agricultural products in the nation and agriculture plays an important role in the life and economy of the 18th Congressional District. Farmers in San Mateo, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties contribute over $1 billion to our nation’s economy producing a wide variety of specialty crops, including peppers, mushrooms, cut flowers, and artichokes. Our local farmers also serve as models of conservation, with many embracing organic growing techniques.
California is the top specialty crop producer in the nation and many of these crops are grown in the 18th Congressional District. Specialty crops, which include all fruits, vegetables, nuts, horticultural, and nursery crops, play a vital role in our nation’s agricultural economy and contribute to our $44 billion agriculture trade surplus. Unlike commodity crops, specialty crop producers and processors do not receive federal subsidies.
Rep. Eshoo has supported specialty crop growers throughout her tenure in Congress. In the 113th Congress, Rep. Eshoo joined several House colleagues in sending a letter to the leadership of the House Agriculture Committee requesting that, while working to reauthorize the Farm Bill, they give full consideration to research, pest and disease management, and trade assistance programs that are vital to specialty crops producers. Unfortunately, important specialty crop programs such as the National Clean Plant Network, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the Market Access Program, and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops were not funded in the recent one-year Farm Bill extension due to the way the 2008 Farm Bill was drafted.
The farm bill is a broad, multiyear authorization of various agriculture and food programs, including crop insurance, agricultural conservation and research, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. The 2008 farm bill expired at the end of 2012, but most of its provisions were temporarily extended through 2013 in the “fiscal cliff” legislation.
Rep. Eshoo’s priorities in a farm bill are twofold: protect SNAP from cuts which would hurt children and adults who are hungry, and support programs that preserve and strengthen California’s vibrant agricultural economy and environment. Rep. Eshoo is a cosponsor of House Resolution 90, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that Congress should reject all cuts to the SNAP program. Rep. Eshoo does not believe that our budget should be balanced on the backs of those who rely on SNAP benefits to feed their families.
Rep. Eshoo also sent a letter with several California colleagues to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee in support of provisions in the farm bill that benefit California, including conservation programs and funding for specialty crop research and production that were left out of the recent extension. California’s $43 billion a year agriculture industry consists of over 80,000 farms and ranches, and produces more than 400 different agricultural products that are consumed all over the world.
On June 20, 2013, Rep. Eshoo voted against the farm bill because it cut SNAP benefits by more than $20 billion and made it much harder for some families to be eligible, despite their need. The farm bill left intact the crop insurance program which provides massive government subsidies to large corporate farms. America’s wealthiest farmers collect over $1 million a year each in insurance subsidies, and 10,000 receive over $100,000, with the lowest 80 percent of policy holders collecting on average just $5,000 each, according to the Environmental Working Group. Rep. Eshoo voted for an amendment that would have reformed the crop insurance program to ensure that the program was targeted toward family farms rather than large corporations. That amendment failed, and the bill failed to pass the House by a vote of 195 to 234. On July 11, 2013, Rep. Eshoo once again voted against the farm bill because the revised bill removed all SNAP funding and did not reform crop insurance subsidies.
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