Cantwell, Stabenow Hold Forum with WA Growers, Shippers & Researchers Ahead of Farm Bill Reauthorization

Senators also tour apple orchard, packing facility & WSU’s Cosmic Crisp lab; Cantwell to dozens of WA ag leaders: “This is a key moment for all of us”

WENATCHEE, WA – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, joined nearly 30 Washington state agriculture leaders for a forum in Wenatchee to discuss the upcoming reauthorization of the Farm Bill.

As chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Sen. Stabenow is leading the reauthorization of the Farm Bill, a package of legislation that must be passed every five years. The bill establishes policy and funding levels for agriculture, food assistance programs, natural resources, and other aspects of food and agriculture under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“This is a key moment for all of us to think about our changing environment, the challenges of getting to overseas markets that we want to have access to, the amount of money we want to see in ag research, [and] the progress we want to keep making in helping this sector thrive and grow,” Sen. Cantwell said at the forum. “It just shows you how economies change, how agriculture changes, and why we need to have a strong Farm Bill. I know there are growers here and interests from all over the state, and I thank them for being here too, because there’s diversity to our products.”

“You don’t have an economy unless somebody makes something and somebody grows something … you have sitting here Maria Cantwell, who’s the chair of the Commerce Committee – the ‘make things’ committee – and I’m chairing the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee – the ‘grow things’ committee. So we, I feel, really are the ones in the middle,” Sen. Stabenow told the stakeholders at the forum. “I’ve been on every ag committee since I was in the state legislature, so I believe very deeply in and want to support what you do.”

The forum was hosted by McDougall & Sons, a Wenatchee-based grower and exporter of apples, pears, and cherries. Before the forum, Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Stabenow toured McDougall & Sons’ orchard and packing facility. Following the forum, the senators took a tour of Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center including the Overley Lab, where the Cosmic Crisp apple and WSU’s recently announced WA-64 apple were first created.

The current Farm Bill expires September 30, 2023. As chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Sen. Cantwell is a leading advocate of growers in Washington state and has also focused on finding ways to ensure Washington state agricultural products can be exported and remain competitive in a global marketplace.

According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the food processing and agriculture industries create more than 164,000 jobs in Washington State.  A county-by-county breakdown is available HERE.

Video of the tour of McDougall & Sons and the agricultural forum is available HERE. Photos of the McDougall & Sons tour, the agricultural forum, and the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center is available HERE.

A full list of forum attendees is available HERE.