Congressman Baca proudly represents California's agricultural needs on the House Committee on Agriculture. He is currently the Chairman on the Agriculture Subcommittee on Departmental Operations, Oversight, Nutrition, and Forestry.
California leads the nation in agricultural production. This is a result of a diverse blend of valleys, foothills, coastal areas and deserts where a bounty of high-quality agricultural products are grown. Congressman Baca's top issues in the committee are promoting nutrition for all Californians, supporting California's dairy producers and specialty crops growers, and protecting civil rights under the United States Department of Agriculture.
Promoting Nutrition and Healthy Living
Congressman Baca believes good nutrition is essential for a healthy life and has fought tirelessly to ensure that Californians have access to nutritional programs. He supports expanding the fresh fruit and vegetable program and California's five a day program. He also opposes a proposal by the President to reduce funding for nutrition programs in the budget for Fiscal Year 2006.
In 2002, Congressman Baca successfully passed a motion to restore food stamp benefits to legal permanent residents and to all children as part of the 2002 Farm Bill. He believes that no individual should have to live in hunger.
Promoting fair and equal treatment of Department of Agriculture employees
Congressman Baca has fought tirelessly to ensure that all people are treated equally. He has focused his efforts on the Agriculture Committee on ensuring that employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture receive equal treatment. The USDA has spent millions of dollars settling discrimination cases brought by minority farmers. Investing in civil rights initiatives at the USDA will not only save the federal government money in the long run, but it will save employees and minority farmers from the heartache and humiliation associated with discrimination.
In 2003, Congressman Baca, along with Congressmen Ballance and Thompson, successfully passed an amendment to increase funding for civil rights programs at USDA. The amendment also included funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions and the 2501 Minority Farmer and Rancher Grants. California State University - San Bernardino has benefited from nearly $500,000 in grants from these two programs. Congressmen Baca, Thompson, and Kildee attempted to pass a similar amendment in 2004 but it was defeated on a party-line vote.
In July 2004, Congressman Baca received the Distinguished Legislator Award from the USDA Coalition of Minority Employees for his work in Congress.
Funding Specialty Crops
California is the largest producer of specialty crops in the United States. Specialty crops generally refer to fruits, vegetables, and some nuts. These crops receive limited federal assistance. Congressman Baca supports initiatives to increase federal assistance for specialty crops, such as the Specialty Crop Competitiveness Act. Specialty crops are a vital part of California's economy and Congressman Baca is fighting to ensure that they are able to thrive.