Secretary offers testimony at congressional hearing in Salinas
SALINAS CDFA Secretary A.G. Kawamura today spoke in favor of continued specialty crop funding at a congressional hearing of the House Subcommittee on Energy Policy, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs. Congress is considering the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act of 2003, a bill that would provide grants totaling $470 million annually over five years for specialty crop funding in all 50 states.
The stakes for the specialty crop industry have never been higher, said Secretary Kawamura. We need this bill now. Even though we have the safest, most secure food supply in the world, too many producers are losing money. Everyday, there are producers either leaving our state or going broke.
The hearing was chaired by Rep. Doug Ose (R-Sacramento), who is also chairman of the subcommittee. Ose introduced the legislation recently along with Rep. Cal Dooley (D-Hanford). Each state would receive a minimum of $2 million annually, with the remainder of the grant allocations based on the value of specialty crop production in a given state. California is the leading agricultural producer in the nation with nearly $28 billion in farm receipts generated from 350 different commodities.
We must recognize that agriculture is a national resource and do all we can to support all sectors of it, said Secretary Kawamura. "Otherwise, I believe we are at risk of losing this valuable asset, which would leave us to import our food just like we import much of our oil. If we can increase consumption of specialty crops, our entire economy will benefit. This bill would be a huge step in the right direction.
The bill includes provisions that would help fund pest exclusion programs, international trade opportunities, promotion of sustainable farming practices, and school gardens in addition to providing grant funds that would be allocated at the discretion of state departments of agriculture. The money would not be available for direct market loss assistance or other direct payments to producers.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814