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The most recent Farm Bill Listening Session was hosted at the Modesto Junior College Ag Pavilion on Saturday, Aug. 5.  The House Committee on Agriculture members for the listening session included Chairman K. Michael Conaway (TX-11), Congressman Jeff Denham (CA-10), Congressman Doug LaMalfa (CA-1), and Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-2). Congressman David Valadao (CA-21) who is Vice Chair of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies under the House Committee on Appropriations was also in attendance.

This hearing was held so that members of the agricultural community could provide input on the priorities to consider as the committee drafts the language of the 2018 Farm Bill. A reoccurring concern was to increase funding for the Market Access Program (MAP).

Almond Alliance member Dave Phippen, with Travaille and Phippen Inc., also provided comments highlighting the importance for programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). The almond industry has used EQIP funds to upgrade ag motors to help the San Joaquin Valley comply with Federal air quality standards.  EQIP is historically underfunded and always over-subscribed.

Almond Alliance President, Kelly Covello with House Agriculture Committee, Chairman Mike Conaway (R-Texas) at the Blue Diamond Grower PAC and California Poultry Federation Luncheon 

Alicia Rockwell, Public Affairs Director for Blue Diamond Growers, stated, “International trade is vital to U.S. agriculture, it needs to be a priority in the farm bill.” She added that almonds are the top exported specialty crop in the U.S. and California’s number one agricultural export. “In light of our stalled trade policy, the U.S. is being left behind and almonds are being put at a great disadvantage.”

Kelly Covello, President of Almond Alliance of California, told the committee, “It is essential that we increase 2018 Farm Bill program funding levels,” she said. “We have seen no funding increases in several important titles in the last two Farm Bills while the challenges facing agriculture have exploded.” In addition, Covello said, “We support an increase of MAP funding to $400 million annually and FMD funding to $69 million annually. ”

Mike Conaway,  Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, said,  “With the farm economy in its worst slide since the Great Depression, producers in every region of the country have important perspectives about what is and isn’t working in agricultural policy.” Adding, “Anybody who eats in this country benefits from this Farm Bill.” It is not too often that we get the opportunity to have the attention of 5 Congressman for 3 hours straight. Overall, the listening session was a unique chance for everyone to express their thoughts and opinions about the upcoming Farm Bill for 2018.

Almond Alliance sent in additional comments to the Farm Bill Committee and sent out a press release to the media. To view these documents please click on Farm Bill Comments or Press Release below.

Farm Bill Comments