Cantwell to Tour Pasco Potato Facility, Pushing Farm Bill

Source: KNDU

KNDU TV - Rachel Hoops

PASCO, Wash. -- Local growers and agriculture researchers will join U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell in Pasco to urge congressional leaders to make a long-term farm bill a top priority.

Cantwell will tour Allied Potato Northwest's processing facility Wednesday morning at 10:45.

The current farm bill's Market Access Program has helped the facility begin shipments to Vietnam, which opened up to U.S. fresh potato exports in 2010. The bill has also supported the  local potato industry by investing in research to better monitor and prevent Zebra Chip disease. The Economic Research Service estimates that for every $1 invested in publicly funded research, $10 of economic activity is generated.

The current farm bill expires September 30, 2013.

A new piece of legislation is currently on the floor of the U.S. Senate for debate and would support agriculture research and export programs that are critical to Central Washington farmers.

The potato industry in Washington State provides an economic impact of $4.6 billion and is responsible for 23,500 jobs throughout the state.

Franklin County has about 33,000 acres of potatoes while Benton County has about 27,000 acres.

Both Benton and Franklin County have a total of 2,521 farms.