The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


Farr: Farmers ‘shocked’ at Republican farm bill failure, but focused on immigration reform

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.

Rep. Sam Farr, D-Calif.

House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Sam Farr, D-Calif., said Tuesday that the farmers in his district were shocked that the Republican-led House did not pass the farm bill but are more focused on the immigration reform bill.

“People at home were shocked the farm bill went down,” Farr told reporters after a House Rules Committee hearing on the fiscal year 2014 Agriculture appropriations bill.

He said one farmer asked, “You mean the Republican-controlled House couldn't put out a farm bill?”

Farr represents a specialty crop-growing district that includes the city of Carmel and wrote the California organic standards law that provided the basis for the federal law. He noted that the programs for specialty crops and organic and local production that were not covered under the extension of the 2008 farm bill would be particularly helpful to his constituents.

But when asked if the farmers in his district would put pressure on the Republican leaders in Congress to pass the farm bill, Farr said they are far more concerned about the immigration bill and Republican divisions on that issue.

“California is unified on immigration reform,” Farr said. “I‘ve never seen so many Republican complaints about the lack of leadership from their party.”

“There is much more pressure on the immigration bill because that’s their workforce,” Farr said. Specialty crop growers, he noted, are not as focused on the farm bill and the Agriculture Department as the commodity growers who get direct subsidies.

“You don’t get as much discussion about the farm bill as you do the labor force,” he added.

Farr also said that California’s current politics could be a signal that the era of conservatism is waning. Farr noted that his state went through the period of austerity and that “in the last two elections the Republicans paid the price for that.”

California has elected former Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, as governor and given control of both the state House and Senate to the Democrats and as well as voting in a tax increase through an initiative.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is not in Washington,” Farr said, but in the mood of people in the state “to fix things.”