Larsen: NW WA Growers on Track for Huge Win with Farm Bill

Jul 20, 2007


Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Rick Larsen (WA-02) applauded the news that the House Agriculture Committee has passed a farm bill (HR 2419) providing $1.6 billion in mandatory funding for specialty crops, an unprecedented investment in fruit and vegetable growers that would benefit farms across Northwest Washington.  A vote on the House floor is expected before the August recess.

“The 2007 Farm Bill passed by the Ag Committee is a huge step in the right direction for Washington's specialty crop producers,” said Larsen. “This bill makes an unprecedented investment in specialty crops. Through increased research, trade promotion, pest and disease prevention and other critical investments, Washington fruit and vegetable growers would be better equipped to compete with farms down the road and around the world.”

Washington’s specialty crops include potatoes, raspberries and nursery products. Washington is the third-largest producer of specialty crops in the country. Specialty crops make up almost fifty percent of total cash receipts in Washington state and nationally.

In March, Larsen introduced the EAT (Equitable Agriculture Today) for a Healthy America Act with a bipartisan group of his colleagues.  The bill aimed to support specialty crop growers by increasing market access, encouraging and facilitating consumption of nutritious agricultural products, expanding funding for research programs and increasing opportunities for family farmers in conservation programs.  It was intended as a “marker” to be included in 2007 the farm bill.
“I’m thrilled that the farm bill includes many important provisions from the EAT Healthy America Act to help Washington fruit and vegetable growers stay competitive,”
Larsen continued.

Key provisions in the farm bill passed by the House Ag Committee include:

  • Investing $1.6 in specialty crops funding including research, trade promotion, pest and disease prevention, nutrition and other critical investments
  • Expanding the USDA Snack Program, which helps schools provide healthy snacks to students during after-school activities to all 50 states, and continuing the DOD Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which provides a variety of fresh produce to schools
  • Strengthening the food stamp program by reforming benefit rules to improve coverage of food costs and expand access to the program with additional funding support
  • Investing significant new resources in popular conservation programs, including the Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Farm and Ranchland Protection Program, and many others
  • Fighting the meth epidemic by rewarding farmers for including additives in their fertilizer tanks that destroy a byproduct of the fertilizer process used to make crystal meth

This spring and summer, Larsen held a series of meetings with Northwest Washington farmers to discuss the 2007 Farm Bill and the need for more resources for specialty crop farmers. At meetings with Snohomish and Skagit county farmers, Larsen was joined by Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), a key advocate for specialty crops in the 2007 Farm Bill and co-lead of the EAT Healthy America Act.

As the farm bill moves toward passage, Larsen will keep working to make sure that the needs of Northwest Washington growers are heard, and that key investments specialty crops are included in the final bill.