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Meet Your Leaders: Sam Farr

by: Jill Richardson

Sun Sep 14, 2008 at 08:00:00 AM PDT


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Sam Farr represents the 17th district of California, an area that encompasses Monterey, Santa Cruz, and the Salinas Valley ("the salad bowl of the world"). He sits on the Appropriations committee and its Agriculture sub-committee, so he has the ability to give money to programs we care about. Also, he co-chairs the House Organic Caucus, so at least in name he's supportive of organics.

Sam Farr (D-CA)
Sam is an 8th term Congressman who won his last election with 76% of the vote. He was born in San Francisco on July 4, 1941l. He is Episcopalian and he received a B.S. degree from Willamette University in 1963. Before he was elected to the House, he was a budget analyst. He is married and his wife's name is Shary.

Contact Information
DC Office: 202-225-2861 (phone); 202-225-6791 (fax)
District Offices: 831-424-2229 (Salinas); 831-429-1976 (Santa Cruz)

Chief of Staff: Rochelle Dornatt
Appointment Secretary: Tom Tucker
Legislative Director: Debbie Merrill
Press Secretary: Tom Mentzer

Congresspedia Entry for Sam Farr
NYT: Sam Farr on Organics and Food Safety

Jill Richardson :: Meet Your Leaders: Sam Farr
To his credit, Farr co-sponsored Louise Slaughter's bill to restrict antibiotic use in food animals that was introduced in 2007 but not passed. His page on Agriculture highlights the agricultural production of the district, especially noting specialty crops (a.k.a. fruits and vegetables). As such, he supported increased funding for specialty crops in the last farm bill.

These funds will include money for research, nutrition, food safety and specialty crop marketing programs. Food safety is of utmost importance to our farmers and is an integral investment not only in our region's farms but also in our nation's health. Funds directed to our fruits and vegetable farmers for competitiveness and marketing programs are also an excellent use of taxpayer dollars that will offer our nation a healthy return on investment.

I can't say I disagree with much of what he's said, but at the same time I know that many of the enormous farms and the type of agriculture he represents are not the kind we foodies are fighting for.

Farr also voices support for "pest control" in California. I find it a bit hard to believe that a friend of organic agriculture would support this, but I guess Farr's not so much a friend of organics as he is a friend of the big ag interests in his district.

The state will also receive more than $30 million for pest and disease control, including $24 million to fight the glassy-winger sharpshooter and Pierce's Disease and $6.5 million to battle Sudden Oak Death. The light brown apple moth is another unwanted visitor. This year, the House Agriculture Committee approved the use of all funds necessary to eradicate this pest from the California landscape.

According to On the Issues, Sam is a "hard core liberal" with the following positions:

Rated 23% by the [U.S. Chamber of Commerce], indicating an anti-business voting record. (Dec 2003)

Rated 100% by the [Campaign for America's Future], indicating support for energy independence. (Dec 2006)

Rated 95% by the [League of Conservation Voters], indicating pro-environment votes. (Dec 2003)

Voted NO on implementing CAFTA, Central America Free Trade. (Jul 2005)

Voted NO on withdrawing from the WTO. (Jun 2000)

Rated 44% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues. (Dec 2002)

Rated 89% by [the American Public Health Association], indicating a pro-public health record. (Dec 2003)

According to OpenSecrets.org his top contributor for the 2008 race was American Crystal Sugar and his top contributing industry is Crop Production & Basic Processing. No surprises there. He received $5000 apiece from Blue Diamond Growers, Dairy Farmers of America, and the Western Pistachio Association. (Blue Diamond is a large California almond company, and DFA is an enormous dairy co-op that does a nice job screwing small dairy farmers.)

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