January 29, 2014

Pending Farm Bill Addresses California Ag’s Top Priorities
The California Farm Bureau Federation (CFBF) said top priorities for California farmers and ranchers appear to have been achieved in the bill:

A farm bill amendment that would have harmed California egg producers and other farmers was removed. It would have prevented California and other states from setting customized standards for foods and agricultural products. The amendment was directed specifically at California law that will require imported eggs sold in the state to meet Proposition 2 hen-housing standards.

The amendment also threatened other state-specific standards to prevent pests and diseases that threaten California crops.

With California suffering from severe drought, the bill would also restore programs intended to help farmers and ranchers through such emergencies.

The farm bill includes funding for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network; for specialty crop programs that focus on research, marketing and pest-and-disease prevention for fruit, vegetable, and nut and nursery crops; and for dedicated air-quality funding.

The bill indicates that a dairy gross margin insurance program would be implemented, but without a supply management feature. Instead, each dairy producer would have a base assigned at the highest level of his or her production in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Indemnities would be paid on any production up to base. If a producer increases his or her marketings, only 25 percent of the indemnity would be paid above the base amount. For example, if a dairy producer's base was 3 million pounds and he produced 3.2 million pounds in 2014, he would receive indemnities on the 3 million pounds and 25 percent of the indemnities on the remainder.

There is also a transition period whereby premiums would be significantly reduced for the first two years for those producing less than 4 million pounds of milk.

In addition, a new "Section 32 type" program would be implemented and the USDA would be required to purchase excess product if the margin falls below $4 for two consecutive months.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would take a reduction in funding of about $8.6 billion. The cuts were primarily achieved by boosting the minimum threshold for low-income fuel assistance to food stamp households.

Source: California Farm Bureau Federation