Farm leader: federal policy must build for tomorrow's agriculture
» August 26, 2005 «
Faced with the competition of low-priced imports, foreign trade barriers and the threat of exotic pests and plant diseases, a California farm leader says nut, vegetable and fruit farmers expect federal farm policy to assure a fair marketplace for all of U.S. agriculture.
California Farm Bureau Second Vice President Paul Wenger spoke at a congressional hearing in Lodi today, which was called to assess the impact of federal farm policy on "specialty crops."
Testifying on behalf of Farm Bureau, Wenger told members of the House Subcommittee on Livestock and Horticulture that the government must enhance efforts to open and develop new markets, and must augment conservation and rural-development programs, while reducing the costs of regulatory burdens on farms.
"Progress cannot wait," Wenger said.
Wenger, a walnut and almond grower from Modesto, called for expansion of the Market Access Program, which provides matching funds to enhance promotions of American crops to foreign consumers, and a program called Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops, which helps farmers overcome trade barriers in foreign markets.
"Gaining more market access is critical to agriculture's success," he said, while noting that California farmers face continued barriers in selling to top markets including Japan, Korea, India and the European Union.
Wenger urged Congress to provide additional resources to protect U.S. farms and ranches from exotic pests and diseases. He encouraged expansion of successful matching-funds programs that help farmers comply with stringent air-quality and water-quality standards. He also noted the crucial role the federal government plays in assuring that farmers have enough water to grow their crops, a reliable workforce to harvest the crops, and adequate roads and ports to transport the crops to market.
"As Congress begins its debates on the future of farm policy, we hope that you will build for tomorrow's agriculture that makes accommodations for population growth, limited resources, environmental impacts and world competition," he concluded.
The California Farm Bureau Federation, the state's largest farm organization, works to protect family farms and ranches on behalf of its nearly 87,000 members statewide.
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