The U.S. House of Representatives this past week passed H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018, including provisions to strengthen existing ag programs, target resources towards rural development and pest and disease prevention, encourage conservation efforts, and provide a reliable safety net for America’s farmers and ranchers. The bill also facilitates agricultural trade by supporting the development of new international markets for U.S. agricultural exports.
“We must protect our farmers and farmland to keep the Central Valley productive for future generations,” said U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture and almond farmer in the Valley. “This bill protects the Valley’s interests and will help keep our ag industry on a path towards continued expansion and success.”
As one of the top producing agricultural areas in the nation, the Central Valley produces more than $6 billion worth of food in just Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties alone. The 2018 farm bill includes provisions to support farmers through maintained crop insurance programs, investment in working-lands conservation, improved programs for specialty crops including research, block grants, technical assistance and marketing and promotion programs, and a new National Animal Disease Preparedness and Response Program to protect the health of the nation’s livestock sector.
Additionally, the bill modernizes the SNAP program to ensure the government is investing in the nation’s workforce and giving SNAP recipients the tools and guidance to put themselves on a trajectory for economic mobility. Existing work requirements are being streamlined, strengthened, and paired with a variety of options to increase opportunities for recipients, including participating in a fully-funded, guaranteed Employment and Training (E&T) program.
With farming income on the decline over the past few years, the bill also takes care to provide support for farmers with a strengthened safety net. The bill authorizes and restores funding for trade promotion and market development tools while maintaining authority for the Secretary of Agriculture to provide assistance to farmers and ranchers affected by unfair foreign trading practices. Denham noted that with growing trade conflicts threatening the agriculture industry, these provisions will be more important than ever before in ensuring farmers have the security they need to thrive.
Denham represents California’s 10th congressional district, which includes Stanislaus County and a portion of San Joaquin County. He is the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials and also serves on the House Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources.