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U.S. Congress Takes Aim At Inflation, Fuel Costs With New Bill

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) -- High gas prices aren't just affecting drivers making daily commutes.

Petrol-based fertilizer along with the costs of operating machinery and tractors has local farms in California worried about their futures, so much so that the United States Congress is prepared to step in.

This week in the House of Representatives, a bipartisan group presented a bill titled the "Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act" with the hope of giving aid to farmers as well as combating inflation.

"Everything is a process," says Kat Nissen, who runs a mid-size dairy farm in Escalon. "There's a chain and once a link is broken, the chain falls apart."

She added, "It is a little bit of a struggle for us."

John Laghier owns 80 acres in the central valley. He says that the fertilizer that many farmers use is 100 percent nitrogen-based which comes from natural gas or petrol. The energy crisis affects not just their ability to operate machinery for their farms but also ups the cost of what they use to plant. Fertilizer prices have nearly doubled in the last few months.

Everything from fuel to fertilizer as well as equipment parts, all deriving from a litany of supply chain issues, Russo-Ukrainian war-related disruptions and general economic imbalance has farmers worried about the future. A fear shared by Congressman Josh Harder (D, CA-10)

"Pretty soon it's not going to be possible to be a small-scale family farm in California," Harder explains.

That has prompted a bipartisan group to propose relief.

"This program is going to help them actually cut the amount of fertilizer and other nutrients that are needed on their farm," Harder said.

Harder's resolution, in particular HR 7764, deals with precision agriculture. It earmarks 750 million dollars to help farms implement best practices to use less fertilizer without reducing crop yields which presumably means more supply and hope to contain inflation.

"Why that matters is that's going to help us lower prices at the grocery store," Harder said.

Harder takes the floor on Thursday with the rest of the House of Representatives hoping to vote on the bill as early as this week.

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