CDFA is in the midst of preparing California’s recommendations for the 2018 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is renewed every five years and serves as the policy guideline for food and farming in the United States. The legislation touches all of us in numerous ways, as this blog post and others to follow in a series will explain in greater detail.
The Farm Bill is essential for agriculture in the present time, but it also plays a vital role in shaping our future. It helps fund research and education programs; it supports the development of our rural communities; and, significantly, it serves as a guide for young and beginning farmers who will carry the torch of California agriculture.
New and Beginning Farmers
California’s agricultural future depends on our next generation of farmers and ranchers willing to take on the responsibility. It’s not an easy job. The average age of farmers is trending upwards. Some estimates suggest that between now and 2018, there will be an 8 percent drop in the total number of farmers and ranchers. We need people to choose farming and ranching. The current Farm Bill has helped by providing:
- $100 million for the Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program to offer and develop education, training, mentoring and outreach programs.
- Increased access to capital dollars to help new and beginning farmers start their operations with confidence.
- Reduced rates on crop insurance premiums for the first 5 years of farming
Research and Education
As home to the world’s best universities and research facilities, California has always led the way in developing cutting-edge research to help our farms, our food and our families. Historically, support from the Farm Bill has allowed us to excel at innovation. For example, federal research dollars have helped:
- Improve the environment through the adoption of climate smart agriculture technologies.
- Fight the spread of pests and diseases by developing new eradication methods and resistant fruit and vegetable plants.
- Fund nutritional research, leading to peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the health benefits of fruits, vegetables and nuts.
- Increase food safety training.
- Quantify the benefits of on-farm climate-smart farming practices.
California’s rural communities are the backbone of our agricultural economy. They provide the ingenuity, perseverance and resources that allow California to thrive. The rural development title in the current Farm Bill helps support these communities by:
- Providing over $150 million for water and waste water infrastructure and emergency relief.
- Supporting rural business development and creating employment opportunities through small-business entrepreneurship programs and capital investment.
- Expanding broadband connectivity to reach areas that lack adequate internet access.
Ensuring the continued success of rural communities is vital to our success as a state. The Farm Bill helps build the foundation to keep these communities thriving for years to come.
The future of California agriculture will undoubtedly face challenges, but it will also present substantial opportunity. The Farm Bill is there to help with both. California is ready to continue leading the way in agricultural innovation, quality and safety.