Cantwell: Washington State Wins Big with Senate Farm Bill

WASHINGTON, DC- U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) voiced strong support for the farm bill, H.R. 2646, which passed the Senate today by a vote of 58-40.

"Washington state's farmers, growers, and ranchers help feed the nation and deserve our support," Cantwell said. "The farm bill gives them the help they need to continue their critical work despite being hard hit by natural disasters and softening agriculture markets."

The Farm Bill is headed to a conference committee to reconcile differences in the Senate and House of Representatives versions of the bill.

Important Provisions for Washington State Farmers:

Safety Net for Wheat, Peas and Lentil Growers

The Farm Bill increased commodity support payments for wheat growers and other program crops by over $42 billion dollars in the next ten years. The bill expands the marketing loans to include peas, dried peas and lentils and adds a counter-cyclical payment that sets a target price for crops and pays a deficiency amount to farmers should the market price for the commodity fall below the target price.

$100 Million Emergency Payments for Apple Growers

At the urging of Senators Cantwell and Murray, the U.S. Senate approved $100 million in emergency payments to apple growers. The apple assistance package was included in a disaster relief amendment sponsored by Senator Max Baucus (D-MT). The Baucus amendment also includes crop loss disaster assistance and livestock assistance desperately needed by farmers and ranchers in Washington state who were affected by last year's drought and storms.

Opens door to Agricultural Trade with Cuba

The Farm Bill includes a provision that allows private financing of crop sales to Cuba. This provision is particularly important because it may help Cuba pay for purchases of peas and lentils from Washington state.

Specialty crops

The Farm Bill also includes $100 million for development and administration of a specialty crop insurance program - eligible Washington state specialty crops include apples, pears, and potatoes - and an increase in specialty crop purchase program for school lunches.

The Senate also adopted Cantwell's amendment to expand eligibility for $145 million available annually for research grants on precision agriculture technologies to include research pertaining to horticulture crops, including apples, pears and cherries.

Trade and Market Access

Cantwell cosponsored Murray's amendment to substantially increase the annual expenditure for the Market Access Program (MAP), which helps supports efforts to develop overseas markets for American crops. The amendment, which was included in the bill, increases the annual expenditure from $90 million to $200 million.


The Farm Bill increases funding for nutrition programs, including food stamps, by over $6 billion in the next decade. The bill also restores food stamp eligibility to legal immigrants.


The Farm Bill increases conservation spending by $21.9 billion over the next ten years. The bill - which protects the property rights of landowners - would provide increased support for removing sensitive land from agricultural production, and incentives for continuing and adopting new conservation practices on land in production. Conservation funding is a primary source of direct income assistance to specialty crop farmers, providing compensation to farmers for projects that increase the environmental sustainability of farming practices.