As a farmer and dairyman, agriculture is extremely important to me and the work I do every day as your Representative. During my time in Congress, I have had the honor of working with a variety of agricultural groups and organizations.
Agriculture drives the American economy and is the backbone of the Central Valley’s economy. California’s diverse agricultural economy is a $35 billion dollar industry that produces over 400 commodities and accounts for over a half of our nation’s fruits and vegetables. I will fight to maintain California’s status as an agricultural superpower.
Agricultural trade is a multi-billion dollar industry with last year’s exports reaching $137 billion. Today, California produces over 12% of all nationwide agricultural exports and 30% of all dairy exports. I will work to ensure our farmers continue to remain competitive internationally.
Representing the nation’s largest dairy district, I feel it is of utmost importance to voice the needs of dairy producers in Washington. That’s why I introduced the California Federal Milk Marketing Order Act. This bill will allow producers in California to petition to join the federal order and enter a more level playing field for their milk prices.
With over 400 varieties of specialty crops in the 21st Congressional District, it is vital to the San Joaquin Valley that specialty crops are represented in Congress. Through my position on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration I will work to address their funding through the appropriations process.
I, along with my colleagues on the House Agriculture Committee, will work to ensure the passage of a long-term Farm Bill. Through the Farm Bill, the federal government provides methods of protection for farmers against natural disasters and unforeseen market disruptions such as insect infestations. It is important that we ensure our farmers and ranchers have the tools they need to produce our food supply.
I know California’s farmers and ranchers face challenges with water availability. Our Central Valley is wholly dependent on a stable supply of water. I will fight to improve our aging water infrastructure, increase storage capacity, and ensure an end to man-made droughts caused by regulatory overreach.
During these tough economic times, agriculture has been the bright spot in our economy. In 2010, agricultural products consisted of $115.8 billion, or about 10%, of our total exports. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass the Farm Bill in 2013 and ensure that the Central Valley continues to feed the world year in and year out.