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HANFORD — Congressman TJ Cox (D-Fresno) hosted Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) in the 21st Congressional District for an agricultural roundtable discussion and site visits to learn about the needs and challenges the Central Valley faces.

Lee is the chair on the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity, and member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies.

Cox said as someone who has served over 20 years in the House of Representatives that has the necessary leadership and authority to deliver positive changes, it was vital for Lee to understand what is going on in the district.

Agriculture is one of the Valley’s most important industries, and because Lee is the only Californian on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies, Cox decided to give Lee a first-hand look into the needs of the industry.

The two representatives stopped by the Kings County Farm Bureau to meet with farmers, ranchers, ag commissioners and community advocates from various local farm bureaus and water districts.

Cox said they received good input from the individuals about how they all need to work together to maintain and grow the agriculture industry for the future and keep everything sustainable. He said water, immigration and trade are some of the important subjects they discussed that are all posing challenges for the area.

After the meeting, Lee said the issues that were brought up are not only important to the region, but also the entire country because the Central Valley is the breadbasket of the U.S. She said these are bipartisan issues where both sides can come together to solve problems.

Lee said she has visited the Central Valley before, but this was her first time in an official capacity. She said rural and urban areas have a lot of challenges in common and wants to help close that divide.

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She said since landing in Washington, D.C., Cox has diligently championed for the Valley, so now that she has seen and heard directly from the people here, it gives her exactly the focus she needs to be an advocate for ag issues.

“As an appropriator, I’m able to work with him to try to make sure that we address all of the issues that he has raised,” Lee said.

Prior to their visit in Kings County, representatives Cox and Lee visited Fowler Packing to learn more about the daily operations of one of the largest table grape and citrus growers in the nation.

Cox said he is dedicated to maintaining a strong working relationship between the ag industry and congressional office. He said his office is committed to holding ag roundtables in the district at least once a quarter.

Additionally, Lee serves on the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, which funds things like Head Start and school lunch programs.

So, Cox later took her to visit Kings Community Action Organization’s Rosa Parks Learning Center, one of the organization’s many Head Start locations.

Lee said it was great to see how the kids are learning and how what they do in the Capital impacts their lives.

“It really is inspiring and just gives us what we need to go back to fight the good fight in D.C.,” she said.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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