Capps asks local ranchers, growers for input on farm bill at Jan. 30 event

Central Coast ranchers and growers have been invited to Cal Poly on Jan. 30 to tell U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, what their priorities are in the upcoming federal farm bill, which Congress expects to consider this year.

The bill will set farm and food policy for the country, and will have a significant impact on the local agriculture industry, Capps wrote in a news release.

Capps also will speak with representatives from the San Luis Obispo County Farm Bureau and County Agricultural Commissioner’s Office.

In addition, those involved with Cal Poly’s Agricultural Research Initiative will highlight their efforts to work with agricultural businesses to improve agriculture through new technologies.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong will speak about the importance of agriculture for San Luis Obispo County's economy.

In her news release, Capps wrote that California’s agricultural businesses generate approximately $37.5 billion in receipts annually, about 12 percent of the total share of agricultural receipts in the United States.

California, she wrote, is ranked No. 1 in exports for “specialty crops” such as tree nuts, fruits and vegetables. The state is ranked No. 2 in dairy production nationwide.

Capps wrote that she has worked with other Congress members who represent agricultural areas to “finally allow California’s specialty crop farmers to benefit from government farm programs.”

“Fruit and vegetable producers have their own place in the farm bill for the first time and are benefiting from more than $1.3 billion for new programs that support research, pest management, trade promotion and nutrition for the industry,” she wrote.

“Prior to the enactment of these reforms, only large growers who produce commodity crops like corn and wheat were eligible to receive federal support,” she wrote.

“Although progress has been made in leveling the playing field, these large growers still receive disproportionately more benefits,” Capps wrote.