North State Congressmen Garamendi and LaMalfa Join Forces to Ease Restrictions on Agricultural Construction
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA) announced the introduction of HR 2170, the FARM Cost Reduction Act. This bipartisan legislation would lift a de facto prohibition on construction and repair of agricultural structures in areas designated by FEMA as flood risks. Under current law, areas designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) generally require all new, expanded or repaired structures to be raised above potential flood level. In many parts of the Sacramento Valley, however, such restrictions would require raising barns and silos upwards of ten feet, adding prohibitive costs and lessening the utility of the structures.
The legislation also directs FEMA to develop a new flood mapping zone, which would be comprised of levee basins which are protected by levees that do not meet FEMA’s 100-year level of flood protection. Insurance rates in this zone would be based on actuarial risk, meaning if the levees provide a 50-year level of protection, FEMA would charge rates based on that risk level. Under current policy, if a levee does not meet the 100-year level of protection, FEMA assumes there is no protection at all, and charges rates that are structured like those that would be charged absent a levee.
“Agriculture is the most responsible use of these floodplains because it keeps spaces open and limits development—both of which are essential to responsible flood control,” said Congressman Garamendi. “Current regulations on agricultural structures pave the way for less responsible development and are actually counterproductive to decreasing flood risk. That’s why I’m proud to be working across the aisle with my neighboring Congressman, Doug LaMalfa, to improve floodplain management.”
Congressman Doug LaMalfa said: “This bill keeps the North State’s farm economy growing and lowers costs for agriculture by modernizing federal flood insurance rules that currently place the same requirements on barns and silos as on suburban housing tracts. By recognizing that agricultural structures have different needs than residential neighborhoods, farmers will be able to build new barns, silos, and sheds and purchase insurance at reasonable rates. I am pleased to work with my colleague, Rep. Garamendi, and our bipartisan coalition to bring some common sense back to flood insurance requirements.”
Reps. LaMalfa and Garamendi have been longtime collaborators on this issue. They first introduced this legislation in the 113th Congress and continue to campaign for funding important local levee projects, the construction of Sites Reservoir, and other projects that will reduce flood risk and take advantage of excess surface flows to create new water to fit California’s expanding needs.
The FARM Cost Reduction Act is supported by the California Rice Commission, USA Rice Federation, American Farm Bureau Federation, California Farm Bureau Federation, Sacramento County Farm Bureau, Yuba-Sutter Farm Bureau, Yolo County Farm Bureau, California Cattlemen’s Association, Dairy Institute of California, Sacramento County, San Joaquin County, Sutter County, Butte County, and the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency.