May 28 2008
Key Provisions in the Farm Bill Will Benefit Washington State Schools As Well As Farmers
KENNEWICK, WA – As part of her ongoing commitment to improve the quality of life and economic vitality of rural Washington, today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) held a press event at Park Middle School focusing on Cantwell’s victories in the Farm Bill, primarily the $1B for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable program, which will extend the participation of Washington’s schools from 25 under the pilot program, to approximately 100 under the full program. With $2.7 billion directed towards specialty crop programs, the 2007 Farm Bill is the best in history for specialty crop growers, and is likely the best in history for Washington state. Additionally, the bill contains strong nutrition and conservation titles—both priorities for Cantwell.
“Not only does the Farm Bill offer huge victories for Washington farmers and specialty crop growers, the Farm Bill also offers programs to students offering more food and nutrition programs to families,” said Cantwell. “With recent news showing obesity rates climbing in the U.S., it is of the utmost important to expand food and nutrition programs for families to give them the tools to improve health and wellness for future generations.”
Late last year, Cantwell lead the charge to defeat Republican leadership's attempts to strip the Asparagus Market Loss Program from the 2007 Farm Bill. The program provides $15 million in assistance to help offset losses the producers suffered as a result of increased imports of asparagus due to the Andean trade Preferences Act.
From her seat on the Finance Committee, Cantwell worked with Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) to help authorize the Agricultural Disaster Relief Trust Fund. The fund creates a permanent agricultural disaster relief program that to reduce the need to provide annual ad hoc disaster packages, that have become the norm in the last few years. The fund will provide $3.8 billion dollars for disaster relief over the life of the farm bill. Specialty crop farms will be eligible to take part.
Cantwell helped secure over $1 billion over 10 years for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program. This program will provide fresh and nutritious foods to school children to expand greatly from 14 states to the whole country. This program offers the dual purposes of giving children nutritious food while providing a market for our country's specialty crops.
# # #