WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Dennis Cardoza (CA-18) announced he will be ranking member of the House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy and Poultry during the 112th Congress. As the lead Democrat on the Committee, he will have the opportunity to guide legislation affecting livestock, dairy, poultry, meat, seafood and seafood products; inspection, marketing, and promotion of such commodities; aquaculture; animal welfare; and grazing. California ranks first in the nation in total dairy production, with $4.5 billion in annual sales in 2009.
“California leads the nation in dairy production, and I appreciate the opportunity to play an instrumental role in crafting policies that work for dairy farmers,” said Congressman Cardoza. “As ranking member, I will work with the chair to end the current crisis in the dairy industry caused by dramatic swings in market prices. We need a dairy program that gives our farmers the stability they need to stay in business through both the good years and the bad.”
Mike Marsh, Chief Executive Officer of Western United Dairyman, commented, “Dennis has been a champion for dairy farmers throughout this current crisis. The next Farm Bill will be very important for dairy farmers, and we can count on Dennis to be an advocate for a strong dairy title in the new legislation.”
Ray Souza, former President of Western United Dairyman and current member of the Board of Directors, added, “Having Dennis as a leader of the Agriculture Committee is a great opportunity for California farmers. Rarely have we had the benefit of having someone so well-versed on dairy issues representing our needs on the committee drafting the policies that can make or break our industry.”
California’s dairy industry generated $63 billion in economic activity and 443,574 full time jobs in the state in 2008. Approximately one out of every five dairy cows in the US lives in California, and they produced a record 41.2 billion pounds of milk in 2008.
Congressman Cardoza was also named today to the General Farm Commodities and Risk Management Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over program and markets related to cotton, cottonseed, wheat, feed grains, soybeans, oilseeds, rice, dry beans, peas, lentils, the Commodity Credit Corporation, risk management, including crop insurance, commodity exchanges, and specialty crops.
“Cotton and rice growers in the Valley now have a voice on this pivotal commodities subcommittee,” said Congressman Cardoza. “And I will work to create a better crop insurance program, because the current system is ineffective and impractical for most farmers in the Valley.”
“Dennis has been a great ally for California farmers on the Agriculture Committee, especially when the Farm Bill was rewritten in 2008,” said Bill Mattos, President of the California Poultry Federation. “Having him in a leadership role for the next few years is great news for agriculture in our state.”
California has 81,500 farms and ranches, and agriculture produced $36.2 billion in cash farm receipts in 2008. The state produces nearly half of U.S.-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables. All four counties -- Fresno, Merced, Modesto, and Stanislaus -- in Congressman Cardoza’s congressional district rank in the top ten agriculturally producing counties in the state, based on the market value of products sold.