Date: Jun 22, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 22, 2009) – Today Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif, Vice President of Federal Government Affairs Cathy Enright and a representative from the California Farm Bureau Federation met with Congressmen Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) to discuss the pending Waxman-(Edward) Markey (D-MA) American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES), H.R. 2454, and the impacts it could have on the fresh produce industry.

“I am grateful to Representative Cardoza for arranging the meeting and Representative Waxman and his staff for taking time to discuss how ACES could affect the fresh produce industry,” said Nassif. “In order for the fresh produce industry to sustain itself, it must be financially competitive. Our concern is that the potential costs incurred by fresh produce farmers, should the current climate change bill become law, could financially imperil many of our nation’s specialty crop producers.

“Our industry is already saddled with financial challenges with regard to input costs. For instance, standard input costs today (fuel/oil, fertilizer/chemical and electricity) for small vegetables and melons farmers represent about 40 percent of their production value. Our data suggests the cost of fuel alone could increase 65 percent under ACES.

“This is, after all, as much about food security and sustainable agriculture as it is about climate change. If America’s fresh produce farmers can no longer afford to farm, the alternative is development, where we all lose — greenhouse gas emissions will increase, our air quality will suffer, and we'll need to look abroad for more of our food.

“We need more scientific data to determine what the real costs and opportunities are for the specialty crop industry, which includes approximately 300 different commodities. The family farmers who supply our nation with the safest, most nutritious produce in the world have been taking steps to mitigate their green house gas emissions for many years [by covering their crops, improving their crop rotations, controlling invasive pests, restoring degraded soils, conserving water by implementing state-of-the art irrigation systems]. How can these efforts be recognized and what other opportunities are there for our growers?

“We look forward to continuing our work with Congressmen Waxman, Markey and Cardoza, and their counterparts in the Senate, to ensure the fresh produce industry is able to remain competitive under any climate change legislation.”

Western Growers is an agricultural trade association whose almost 3,000 members grow, pack and ship 90 percent of the fresh vegetables and nearly 70 percent of the fresh fruit and tree nuts grown in Arizona and California, about one-half of the nation’s fresh produce. Western Growers members provide the best medicine in the world.

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