Leaders discuss Ag Issues in Washington D.C.

Farm Bureau staff and local leaders participated in the annual Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce Cap to Cap trip this week in Washington, D.C.  The Chamber’s top issues highlighted the importance of food and agriculture in the region.  SCFB board members Virginia Chhabra and Mike Wackman, along with executive director Charlotte Mitchell spoke to Congressional representatives and agency staff on issues critical to the region’s agricultural viability.  On the top of the list was support for construction of Sites Reservoir, a critical component to solving California’s water challenges.  Nothing else can happen to solve California water needs until more storage is built in this state.  There have not been any changes to our water infrastructure since the 1960’s, yet there has been an explosion of the people drawing on that same, now outdated storage.

In addition, Farm Bureau leaders and the Chamber delegation emphasized the need for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with 11 other countries.   TPP will provide new and commercially meaningful market access for U.S. exports of food and agricultural products; eliminate the use of agricultural export subsidies; discourage countries from imposing export restrictions, and ensure food safety, animal health, and plant health measures are developed and implemented transparently and in a science-based manner.

Lastly, a coalition of flood managers, farmers, land use agencies, and Farm Bureau spoke to several agencies to impress upon the need to modernize FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program for agriculture.  With recent efforts by FEMA to de-certify levees, re-map areas into Special Flood Hazard Area, and increase the cost of flood insurance, this has limited the ability to build, repair, or expand agricultural buildings, facilities, and operations because it is financially infeasible for farmers and ranchers living in floodplain areas.  Successfully managing flood risk in the Sacramento Valley is dependent on having agriculture reside in floodplain areas.  If agriculture is not economically viable, the landscape soon changes from low-risk, low-density agriculture to high risk, high-density urban development, which is incompatible with flood management goals.

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