THE MONROE MONITOR – WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded final passage of a five-year Farm Bill. The bill includes several key priorities for Washington growers and agriculture producers, including several Cantwell-led priorities to boost production of cross-laminated timber through new uses and innovative uses for wood as a building material, promote pulse crops, and increase export programs for American agriculture products.
“Passing the Farm Bill is a huge investment in Washington state’s agricultural economy. Our crops, including our world leading pulse and specialty crops, will get a boost from hundreds of millions of dollars that will be invested into critical research programs. Timber communities will experience job growth as we promote cross-laminated timber in building construction. And our globally traded agricultural products, like cherries, wheat and apples, which have been harmed by retaliatory tariffs, will see $500 million in new assistance to maintain critical markets and expand opportunities around the globe,” said Cantwell.
In addition, the bill avoids harmful anti-environment riders as well as rejects harmful benefits cuts and eligibility changes that would take away food and create obstacles for working families.
Key Washington priorities included in the 2018 Farm Bill include:
- Boosts exports for Washington agriculture products: The 2018 Farm Bill expands export opportunities by securing an additional nearly $500 million in permanent funding over the next decade to help farmers find new global markets for their goods. In addition, the bill prioritizes $6 million in a Priority Trade Fund to be used at the discretion of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for critical trade programs that have more requests for assistance than available funding, in turn supporting American farmers at no additional cost to the taxpayer.
- Increases research into pulse crops: The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized the Cantwell Pulse Crop Health Initiative until 2023, which authorizes $25 million per year over five years in pulse crop health research to help increase public demand and drive job growth. The program supports technical expertise to help food companies use nutrient-dense pulse crops in their products as well as establish an educational program to encourage the consumption and production of pulse crops.
- Promotes cross-laminated timber: The 2018 Farm Bill includes the Timber Innovation Act, which incentivizes investment through the National Forest Products Lab and American colleges and universities to conduct research and development on new methods for the construction of wood buildings. Additionally, the bill will support ongoing efforts at the United States Department of Agriculture to further support the use of wood products as a building material for tall buildings.
- Helps Integrate American seafood into school lunches: The 2018 Farm Bill includes Cantwell’s “Buy American” language to ensure the school lunches are using American seafood.
- Strengthens investments in Agricultural research: The 2018 Farm Bill supports groundbreaking science that makes farmers more efficient, resilient, and sustainable, and invests $185 million in public-private research, which will generate nearly $4 billion in returns to the agricultural economy. The bill also includes $2.4 billion in permanent investments in specialty crop research, pest management, and promotion of fruits and vegetables. Washington State University was the number one recipient of U.S. Department of Agriculture research funds in FY 2016.
- Boosts efforts to increase organic produce production: The 2018 Farm Bill nearly quadruples investment in organic research and offers cost-share assistance to help farmers transition into organics and strengthens trade enforcement.
- Increases resources for priorities in rural communities: The 2018 Farm Bill expands high-speed internet in rural communities, takes important steps to fight the opioid crisis by investing in telemedicine and essential community facilities that can provide critical treatment options for communities suffering from opioid addiction. In addition, the bill invests in biobased manufacturing, which creates rural manufacturing jobs by using American-grown crops and biobased products.
Posted by: The Monroe Monitor and Valley News, December 13, 2018