Passage of 2014 Farm Bill

By:  Ag Info – Lacy Gray
Source: Ag Info

The passage of the farm bill this week restores funding for several important programs in research, conservation and trade for the agriculture industry. We managed to catch up with U. S. Senator for Washington Maria Cantwell after the Senate passed the House-Senate Farm Bill agreement in a vote of 68 - 32 on Tuesday to ask what she thought was the most important part in this bill for producers here in the state.

CANTWELL: I think getting the bill done and continuing to focus on research, because research is always going to keep us competitive. I think there’s a growing Asian market for a lot of our products - a growing middle class. We’ve got a lot of people wanting to chase that opportunity too, so we’ve got to keep doing the research that keeps us competitive. All throughout our state we have research areas of specialty that are focusing on making sure that our products are tested and tested in advance and that we can prove that our products should be allowed in that marketplace. And the fact that we can produce that science just opens the door, along obviously with our trade agreements.

When asked if there were any parts of the bill she was unhappy with Cantwell said she felt there could have been more robust funding for the Market Access Program, which the bill continues to include at levels equal to the previous bill with $200 million.

CANTWELL: We see a growing opportunity around the globe and we see incredible competition from other people so we want people to know about Washington wine and cherries, and pears. But just keeping it (MAP) this flat level funding is a victory of sorts.

Washington specialty crop growers have utilized the MAP program to reach consumers and businesses around the globe. In fact, such efforts increased the number of Washington apples being sold in India from a few thousand cartons to a record 3.3 million cartons, worth over $61 million, last year.