Latest farm bill to pass House helps disease management, ignores drought crisis

WASHINGTON - Another farm bill passed the House Wednesday, Congressman Kevin McCarthy said it was a step toward helping Central Valley agriculture, but it does not help the drought crisis.

The bill provides nearly $1 trillion in subsidies, insurance and enrichment projects. It includes a one-year extension of a federal program that compensates rural counties for federal lands they can't tax. 

About 1,900 local governments -- mostly in the West -- received a total of $400 million last year under the program, known as Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILT.

More than three-quarters of the money went to 12 Western states, with the largest shares going to California, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

Lawmakers in the West had howled after the program was omitted from a budget deal approved this month. Rural communities rely on it for basic services such as police and fire protection and road maintenance.

The House approved the farm bill on a 251-166 vote. The Senate is next.

McCarthy released the following statement after the House voted to pass the Farm Bill Conference Report:

“Today’s passage of the farm bill is a huge step forward for Kern and Tulare counties, California agriculture, and American taxpayers. 

"This bill saves nearly $23 billion, and reforms and continues vital programs critical to our local communities that combat specialty crop pests and diseases, such as the Asian Citrus Psyllid, help farmers access foreign markets to sell domestically-grown produce in order to create local jobs, assist agriculture producers reduce emissions to help clean the air we breathe, and help ensure California dairies remain strong. 

"Agriculture helps form the backbone of our local communities, and I am proud to have led my colleagues to pass this important legislation to help ensure hardworking families continue to have access to safe, reliable, and affordable food and produce.

“Unfortunately, farmers in California are facing a crisis not addressed in this bill. The current drought in California is one of the worst in history and is only exacerbated by state and federal government regulations.

"It is troubling that after the House introduced provisions to this report that would provide immediate relief to California farmers, Senate Democrats refused to allow it to move forward. Despite this damaging move by Senate Democrats, my colleagues in the House will continue to push legislation that gets senseless regulations out from in between California farmers and much-needed water.”

The conference report to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (H.R. 2642) passed the House by a vote of 251-166. The agreement now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass and be sent to the President to be signed into law.

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