TV coverage of Secretary Ross at Farm Bill Listening Session in Fresno

Please see this link for video: http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/ag_watch&id=8334586

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — California’s Secretary of Food and Agriculture came to the Valley to ask local growers and ranchers to help shape the 2012 federal farm bill.

Growers say they know there will be much less to go around in the next farm bill. Those seeking the least painful cuts spoke out in Fresno.

State Secretary of Food and Ag Karen Ross met with as many Valley farmers as she could during this farm bill listening session. A local dairy representative spoke out against subsidies in the federal ethanol program.

Eric Erba said, “There are few tools or strategies readily available to protect dairy producers from higher costs of feed.”

Secretary Ross says many growers seek crop protection, in the form of stepped up insurance and disaster aid.

Karen Ross said, “One thing all farmers are talking about is the need for a very strong safety net and I think they’re especially cognizant of that as we look at some of the extreme weather events cognizant that have happened in this state and all across the country.”

Whether it’s funding for specialty crops or enhancing the export market, farmers say it’s important California put up a unified front.

Ryan Jacobsen said, “Invasive species, probably one of the top priorities here. Obviously we’ve seen some of the detrimental effects we’ve had locally here so we want to continue to make sure those federal dollars are available.”

The money’s been used to keep destructive pests like the melon fruit fly out of California and to limit its spread once found.

Secretary Ross says the listening sessions around the state will help educate members of congress. She says agriculture has been one of the few bright spots in the U.S. economy.

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