No. 1 In Chickpea Production

By:  AgInfo – Lacy Gray
Source: AgInfo

U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell has been speaking around the state on how her ‘Pulse School Pilot’ amendment in the Farm Bill could make school meals healthier by integrating pulse crops, which include peas, lentils and chickpeas, into breakfasts and lunches.

CANTWELL: Well, we’re very big in pulse crops in Washington state and one of the things that we think has been missing is the ability to get pulse crops into the school lunch program.

Selling more pulse crops would certainly help Washington’s economy, but there is another important reason to strive to get pulse crops into the school lunch program.

CANTWELL: Pulse crops have a huge impact on fiber - in getting the fiber in diet, and they’re a high protein. And they’re also cheap, so when you’re the school nutritionist and you’re trying to make things work, nutritionists will tell you having the lentils and chickpeas, and things like that into the school lunch program is going to be very beneficial.

Washington growers have enthusiastically embraced chickpea production.

CANTWELL: We’ve gone from growing very little chickpeas to now being the number one producer of chickpeas. And when you think about these markets - India, Asia, there’s going to be some big growth opportunities if we can keep pulling that off.

The Pulse School Pilot amendment would provide the USDA $10 million through 2017 to purchase pulse crops to use in school breakfasts and lunches. This could include raw beans and lentils, as well as foods made from pulse crops, such as hummus. Cantwell also highlighted her Pulse Health Initiative in the 2013 Farm Bill, which would support $25 million per year over five years in pulse crop health research grants to help increase public demand and drive job growth.