Cantwell Applauds Investment in Washington State’s Agricultural Economy

Investment Goes Toward Innovative Projects that Bolster Washington State’s Fruit, Vegetable and Horticultural Growers

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded a $3.1 million investment that will bolster Washington state’s specialty crop industry by supporting innovative projects that improve crop yield and expand food safety education. Washington state is the nation’s top producer of several specialty crops including apples, sweet cherries and pears.

“These investments will bolster the farmers driving much of Washington state’s rural economy,” said Cantwell. “More importantly, the projects will help our specialty crop farmers stay on the forefront of industry innovation. This program that I fought for in the 2008 farm bill has helped strengthen Washington state’s specialty crop industry and given our farmers a chance to thrive in an increasingly globalized economy.”

The $3.1 million going to support Washington state farmers is part of the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Specialty Crop Block Grant program and will support 20 projects in Washington state. The Specialty Crop Block Grant program provides grants to states solely to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Washington state’s farmers grow more than 250 varieties of fruits, vegetables, wheat and other crops. Specialty crops are defined as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery corps, including floriculture.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is receiving the grant and partners with Northwest organizations to manage the 20 projects receiving funds through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. To learn more about the 20 innovative programs in Washington state receiving support through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program, click here.

Cantwell has long been a supporter of the Specialty Crop Block Grant program as part of her efforts to improve the quality of life and economic vitality of rural Washington. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, she fought for adequate funding for the program. In years past, Cantwell fought to make the 2007 Farm Bill – passed in May 2008 – the first to meaningfully address the specialty crops section of agriculture. Specialty crops had been essentially left out of previous farm bills, despite the fact that specialty crops account for approximately 50 percent of agriculture receipts. 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. Cantwell also fought to secure key provisions that benefit Washington state’s economy and farmers, including food and nutrition programs for families, the elderly and children.