North state farmers feed the world. Valued at the farm gate, they produce food worth $4.4 billion, making our region among the most productive agriculture regions in the world.
As a lifelong rancher, I understand how vital agriculture is to the local economy and our nation. As the North state continues to feed the world, I’ve made it a priority in Congress to support the local agricultural community.
I represent 91,758 acres of walnut orchards, which have plummeted in value due to the Administration’s ongoing trade war. According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, walnut prices plummeted $930 per ton (36%) since the Administration launched its trade war. As walnut prices continue falling due to retaliatory Chinese tariffs, local growers are struggling to cover their production costs and are at risk of going out of business.
I want key leaders in Washington to understand firsthand how this trade war is impacting our community, which is why I hosted U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in Sacramento County for a discussion with local farmers. I also urged Secretary Perdue to include California-grown walnuts and all other tree nuts in the Market Facilitation Program: the USDA program to help farmers impacted by retaliatory tariffs. Following the Secretary’s meeting with local farmers, USDA adopted this important change for our walnut and other tree nut growers, providing millions of dollars in relief.
I also want to cut the red tape that prevents local farmers from operating in arable land, and ensure local farmers are protected if disaster strikes. That’s why I introduced the “Flood Insurance for Farmers Act,” which would give farmers access to discounted rates under the National Flood Insurance Program.
It would also lift the federal prohibition on constructing agricultural structures in high flood-risk areas designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Under current law, areas FEMA has designated “Special Flood Hazard Areas” require that all new, expanded, or repaired structures be raised above potential flood level. In much of the North state, this would require raising barns and silos upwards of 10 feet, which wouldn’t be possible for many local growers. I’m dedicated to resolving this issue, and I’m pleased to report that the House Financial Services Committee passed my bipartisan “Flood Insurance for Farmers Act,” and the legislation is on track to pass the full House of Representatives in the coming months.
Americans across the nation rely on the North state for good-quality food, and North state growers are the bedrock of the local economy. I am proud of what we grow and will continue fighting for California agriculture and our rural communities in Congress.
(John Garamendi, a Democrat from Fairfield, and is the U.S. representative for the 3rd Congressional District, which includes Yuba-Sutter-Colusa counties.)