Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) will replace Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) as the top Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture budgets.

DeLauro, a longtime advocate for a stronger FDA and federal food safety system, chaired the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies since the Democrats took control of Congress in 2006, but announced late last week that she will instead serve as Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies.

Farr has strong ties to agriculture, especially the produce industry, which is a major economic force in his district. Farr is also knowledgeable about food safety issues. He has served on the Appropriations Committee since 1999.  

“The Central Coast is home to one of the most rich and diverse agriculture regions in the nation,” said Rep. Farr in a recent statement. “This unique opportunity allows me to help steer the course of Agriculture policy in our country, and gives me the right tools to support our local farms and famers.”

Leading produce groups are pleased that Farr will set the Democratic agenda for Ag Appropriations.

“This is great news,” said Grower-Shippper Association of Central California President and General Counsel Jim Bogart. “Sam Farr has been a strong support of agriculture in general, and a champion of Central Coast agriculture in particular. We look forward to continuing our collaborative and effective working relationship with Congressman Farr in 2011 and the years to come. I couldn’t be happier.”

California is the nation’s largest agriculture production state. According to Farr’s office, the Central Coast counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz produce approximately $4.5 billion in agricultural goods each year and Monterey County alone produces more than 85 crops with a value of $3.8 billion.

“As a veteran lawmaker from a California County that is the third largest agricultural producer in the state, Congressman Farr has in-depth knowledge of the diverse needs of agriculture,” said Monterey County Agricultural Commissioner Eric Lauritzen. “Having Congressman Farr in this vitally important position in the U.S. Congress places him at the epicenter of critical deliberations on funding issues that will directly impact the next farm bill, food safety implementation and nutrition programs.”

DeLauro issued a statement saying she was proud of her record leading the Ag Appropriations Subcommittee, but is looking forward to leading the Minority agenda on a committee that deals with the “highest moral obligation” of government.

“I have been proud to serve on the Agriculture and FDA Appropriations Subcommittee, and am very proud of what we were able to accomplish,” said DeLauro. “We provided the necessary resources to better protect our food supply, as well as improve the safety of drugs and devices. We improved access to fundamental nutrition programs that combat hunger. And, we provided critical investments to help facilitate growth in rural America.”