Cantwell On Farm Bill

By:  Greg Martin
Source: AgInfo.net

Cantwell on Farm Bill. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.

The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2012 better known as the Farm Bill has been passed by the Senate with the House version slowly taking shape. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell sat down with me to chat about the Senate’s version which she is happy with.

CANTWELL: I do like the Senate bill. I think we made a couple of important changes in the Senate bill that are good for us in Washington State because of the crops that we have and it’s just good to get a farm bill done. When we think about the U.S. economy and what we have to do to help grow jobs, passing a farm bill is a very big shot in the arm and for us in Washington State, everybody always talks about the jobs related to aerospace and software and we’re proud of that but agriculture is still the number one employer in our state so getting an ag bill passed will really help farmers have some certainty for the future.

One of Cantwell’s pet projects involved pulse crop.

CANTWELL: We pushed very hard on a provision to get included a pilot in the school lunch program for what are called pulse crops, lentils, peas, chickpeas and I’m very excited about that because while we do grow those crops here and we have quite a few of them and we kind of really taken off on things like chickpea production for hummus and everything else, this is a really important food source for the future as it relates to high protein, high fiber, economical product.

That product is important not only here but as a major part of our export program as well.

CANTWELL: We see people all over the world consuming (the product) and yet could have a very positive impact on our school lunch program so we’re excited that got into the Senate bill and we hope that it will stay in the House bill, too. There’s also research dollars in there for lentil crops, for derivatives and while WSU has done a lot of work on that in the past, I’d like to say that lentils are a super food without distinction. They have all these attributes but people don’t really realize it.

I asked the Senator if there was something about the Senate bill that she didn’t like.

CANTWELL: Well, it is a compromise and when you are dealing with a hundred people you have to make decisions and so yeah, there were aspects of things that we didn’t agree on and some we won on and some we lost on but when you realize that sometimes the ag bill can be about geography, not about R&D politics but about what part of the country you are from and what kind of programs do you think assist you.

More tomorrow.

That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Ag Information Network.