As your Representative in Congress, I am committed to ensuring that the agriculture industry in Eastern Washington remains strong. Just last week, the House of Representatives passed the Agriculture Act of 2014, giving Eastern Washington’s farmers, ranchers, and growers the certainty of a new five-year farm bill – one that maintains our commitment to rural America while improving the efficiency of many programs. Here are five things you need to know about this legislation:
1. Protects Farmers and Growers by strengthening Crop Insurance Programs
In Washington State, agriculture has an annual total economic impact of $16 billion dollars. In Eastern Washington, family wheat farms generate nearly $925 million in production value to the State’s economy while creating thousands of jobs. It’s important that we provide them with the necessary tools to produce a safe and reliable food supply, as well as the certainty of crop insurance.
2. Provides one year of full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) Program
PILT is an essential program that compensates rural counties for lost revenue from tax-exempt federal lands within their boundaries.PILT funding is vital to Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties and helps provide funding for services that are vital to community safety, education, and transportation.
3. Continues and enhances critical agriculture research
The bill helps leverage public and private dollars to continue and enhance critical agriculture research, which is important to Washington State University, an institution know for its exceptional and ground-breaking research. The bill also provides key funding for agriculture research related to specialty crops—crops that are vital to Washington State.
4. Promotes health and active management of America’s forests
The bill provides certainty to forest products by clarifying that forest roads should not be treated as point source under the Clean Water Act. By including language addressing forest roads, it is my hope that this will finally resolve the issue, help promote jobs and encourage investments in our timber industry that will contribute to growing our economy in Eastern Washington.
5. Maintains critical assistance for families while stopping fraud and misuse to achieve savings in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
By making common-sense reforms to strengthen program integrity and accountability, savings are reached without removing anyone from the SNAP program and will ensure that every person receives the benefits they are intended to get under the current rules of the program.
The farm bill is a high priority for our agricultural community and I’ve been a strong advocate for getting a new farm bill signed into law. With this important vote by the House, I am more confident than ever that it will get done this year, which will be a great victory for Eastern Washington’s largest industry.