CCM staff and members of the Board met with Representatives Devin Nunes and TJ Cox this week to discuss a number of Federal policy concerns from water, to immigration, to trade, and more.
Congress was on recess this week, providing an opportunity for CCM representatives to have two productive discussions with two members of Congress. On Tuesday, senior staff members Casey Creamer, Alyssa Houtby and Joel Nelsen sat down with Ag colleagues in the Central Valley for a roundtable meeting with newly elected Congressman TJ Cox. This conversation focused heavily on water, potential guest worker legislation, trade, and farm bill implementation. Chaired by Sunkist’s Rayne Thompson with special guest CDFA Secretary Karen Ross there was an exchange as to how his Congressional office can be of help to agriculture and how, in turn, agriculture help educate his office learn about our priorities.
Representatives from the permanent crop, dairy, and row crop sectors were in attendance as well as the California Farm Bureau, Tulare County Farm Bureau, Fresno County Farm Bureau, local government, and the Fresno County Ag Commissioner’s office.
“Representative Cox listened intently as we discussed the need to work across the aisle to achieve success for agriculture in Washington,” states CCM President Casey Creamer. “If anything is going to pass that is beneficial it will take bipartisanship in the House, where Democrats have a majority, in order to pass the Senate where Republicans have a majority.” Creamer continues, “We emphasized that Ag’s issues are not partisan, and we need representatives who can work across the aisle, and more importantly, work with urban members.”
Nelsen noted that trade imbalance, guest worker legislation and the HLB program remain the top priorities for CCM from a federal policy standpoint. The Congressman offered his assistance to identify funding options to address the subsidence of the Friant-Kern Canal. He further agreed that challenges to our water supply must cease and committed to work with the Valley delegation to achieve that objective.
On Wednesday, Nelsen and Houtby were joined by CCM Directors in the conference room at Congressman Devin Nunes district office in Visalia for an honest dialogue around trade and water. “The topics ran parallel with those in the Cox roundtable with more focus on strategies to achieve the desired goal,” says Nelsen. “Nunes offered insight as to who would be friendly as well as identifying the opposition.”
The economics of our industry and the impact of off-shore tonnage on market share and net return per acre was discussed at length. He actively sought further discussions with CCM leadership and requested data relative to negative trade trends.
On water issues, he urged CCM to work closely with specific water leaders and overcome challenges within the Department of Commerce in order to achieve an update to the biological opinions, thus create more reliability for south-of-delta water users. Nunes offered a realistic assessment for correcting the subsidence issue on the Friant-Kern Canal.
As the meeting concluded more than one director noted how productive the session was and engaged Congressman Nunes and his staff were.