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State board to discuss impact to California agriculture as farm bill programs expire
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 The California State Board of Food and Agriculture will discuss the impact of expiring farm bill programs to the State at a Nov. 6 meeting. The meeting will be held from 10 a.m. to 2:30 the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 1220 N St., Sacramento.

“I remain hopeful that Congress will pass a federal farm bill once it reconvenes in mid-November,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “However, we must move forward with the understanding that with the current expiration of some farm bill programs, dramatic long term impacts will be felt by California’s farmers and ranchers.”

Covering such issues as research, specialty crop programs, dairy assistance, trade, and conservation, the farm bill is omnibus multi-year legislation for major food and farm programs. The legislation funds critical programs such as nutrition assistance (food stamps), technical assistance for farmers and ranchers, invasive species prevention and management, and initiatives that support food production and environmental conservation. The current farm bill, the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 expired on Sept. 30. A continuing resolution has extended a number of programs until March 2013, but more than 30 programs have been immediately impacted. Among these programs are the Market Access Program, the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, the Specialty Crop Research Initiative, and the Milk Income Loss Contract Program.

 “California’s farmers and ranchers need to reach out to their Congressional Representatives about the importance and value of farm bill programs,” said Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture. “Without this communication, we run the risk of losing programs of importance to our state and nation.”