Congress urged to tailor assistance package to modern agricultural dynamics
WASHINGTON D.C.-In testimony today before the House Livestock and Horticulture Subcommittee, CDFA Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. urged members of Congress to consider diversity and market dynamics in agriculture when drawing up the 2002 Farm Bill.
Lyons took the opportunity to discuss the changing emphasis of farmers, with many switching from growing a particular commodity to growing a product for a specific market. For example, California now produces more cherries for the Japanese market than our domestic market and is also filling a niche market in Japan for high quality short-grain rice.
“Farms and ranches, like any business, must have the ability to anticipate and meet the needs of customers and the demands of the market,” said Lyons. “Government policies that provide a wide range of tools to help farmers help themselves will empower them to succeed in the market place. Farm policy may either foster a dynamic, market-oriented approach, or stifle growth by clinging to policies that no longer assist agriculture. The next Farm Bill must account for and encourage diversity.”
The Farm Bill is a 5-year plan that authorizes most federal agriculture programs, including commodities, credit, conservation, rural development, trade and nutrition. It aims to provide agriculture with a sufficient safety net and help producers manage risk.
Secretary Lyons helped organize the coalition known as NFACT to bring more attention to diverse, market-oriented agriculture in the border states of New Mexico, Florida, Arizona, California and Texas. The coalition held a series of hearings on the farm bill last winter and is scheduled to present its findings and recommendations to Congress next month.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814