Central Washington Farm Bill Tour

This week, I traveled up and down the 4th Congressional District to hear about Central Washington's agricultural priorities for the upcoming Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is an extremely important piece of legislation that covers everything from trade, research, and conservation to nutrition programs like SNAP and crop insurance. Congress only reauthorizes the Farm Bill every five years, so we have been working hard to make sure we get it right. Learn more about the Farm Bill here.

First Stop: East Wenatchee

To kick off the tour, I met with farmers and farm groups from Douglas County to hear about the importance of crop insurance and the negative effects of overbearing federal regulations. We also discussed how important it is to educate the public about farming and where our food comes from, so future generations can appreciate the agricultural industry. 

Click here to watch iFiberOne's coverage of the meeting.

Second Stop: Pateros

Next, I sought input from Okanogan County farmers in Pateros. In addition to the topics of crop insurance, a solution for DACA, and the critical importance of preserving our Columbia River dams, I heard about the priority of international marketing programs like the Market Access Program (MAP), Foreign Market Development (FMD) Program, and Technical Assistance for Specialty Crops (TASC). These programs are essential for farmers, like apple growers in light trade, to help build up markets. Earlier this Congress, I introduced H.R. 2321, the CREAATE Act, which reauthorizes and doubles the funding for MAP and FMD. Click here to read more about the CREAATE Act.

Washington is the most trade-reliant state in the nation, and we must be able to promote and export our products around the world. I have sent several letters to President Trump, U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer, and USDA Secretary Perdue emphasizing the importance of trade to jobs in Washington state, the potential negative effects a global trade war would create, and the continuation of NAFTA and other bilateral agreements like KORUS. 

Third Stop: Prosser

On the third stop in Prosser, folks from Benton, Franklin, and Walla Walla Counties shared similar thoughts with me about marketing our agricultural goods and making sure that farmers have access to water by preserving our dams. We also discussed the importance of agricultural research, which is a large aspect of the Farm Bill. We must make sure that the industry is operating on the best science available. 

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, also known as the "Omnibus spending bill" that was signed into law on March 23, included several provisions I advocated for to provide research funding for hops, alfalfa, potatoes, grape varietals, and wheat falling numbers. Appropriating these funds through the Omnibus potentially alleviates budgetary issues that may arise as the Farm Bill is drafted and ensures that this important research is conducted.

I went Live on Facebook with Washington Ag Network.
Click here to watch.

Fourth Stop: Quincy

In Quincy, Grant County farmers shared their thoughts about the current H-2A guestworker program, crop insurance, and farming's most vital resource: water. The Columbia Basin Project - upon completion - will ensure that our region has enough water for farmers to harvest the billions of dollars worth of crops that are grown here. It is important that we complete this project, which was originally authorized by Congress in 1943, in order to maintain food security and economic prosperity in the Columbia Basin and in Washington state. 

Did you know? Grant County, Washington is the #1 potato-producing county in the United States.  

Fifth Stop: Othello

I traveled to Othello, where Adams County farmers were eager to stress the importance of getting their goods to market. Among the talks of water availability and well-administered nutrition programs, it was mentioned that we need to ensure the domestic market is not overwhelmed with federal regulations. Farmers need to be able to distribute their agricultural goods in the United States, as well as overseas. One example given was making it easier to serve potatoes in school breakfasts and lunches. I proudly boast that Central Washington is in the business of feeding the world, and I agree that we can't let over-regulation put that at risk. 

Final Farm Bill Tour Stop: Yakima

It was very helpful to hear from Yakima farmers on local priorities. Yakima farmers are focused on how tree fruit, cattle, and dairy will be affected as Farm Bill discussions continue. I also heard about the importance of Bureau of Reclamation projects and the importance of water infrastructure development.

I appreciate the input I received as Congress continues to craft the 2018 Farm Bill. Farming is a big part of the DNA that shapes Central Washington's economy, and I look forward to hearing from you about your agricultural priorities.

Don't Forget: Submit Your Art!

As a reminder, Washington's 4th Congressional District Art Competition is currently underway. High schools students in Central Washington are encouraged to submit their artwork to my office. The winner will receive a trip to Washington D.C., and the winning entry will hang in the U.S. Capitol for one year. Entries are due by April 24. Click here for more details and information about how to enter.

Thank you for reading this e-news update. 


Dan Newhouse
Member of Congress

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