One industry in Eastern Washington includes over 250 different commodities, creates more than 170,000 jobs, and produces $49 billion statewide every year. It’s an industry that makes our region home to numerous farms, orchards and ranches – to wheat fields, apples trees and grazing cattle. Our number-one industry in Eastern Washington – agriculture – is certainly one that makes us proud. That’s why we all have reason to celebrate the fact that the Farm Bill was finally signed into law. It means our farmers and growers will have the certainty they need to produce safe and reliable food for our families and the world. Farmer or not, passage of a Farm Bill affects our entire community.
No matter where I go in Eastern Washington, I hear from wheat growers who want to expand their exports. The Market Access Program reauthorized in this five-year farm bill will allow Washington’s wheat growers and other agriculture businesses to do just that. For an industry that already provides thousands of jobs, the ability to create more jobs can boost our local economy. This farm bill is a jobs bill tailored for Eastern Washington.
The legislation bolsters our universities by providing funds to enhance agriculture research, specifically at WSU, an institution known for its exceptional and ground-breaking research. More students and more professionals will come to Eastern Washington to explore the most innovative technology and the communities applying it in their everyday lives.
This bill also pursues a more active forest management, including the Colville National Forest. This continues to be a top priority of mine, so I am pleased to see that the Farm Bill includes language regarding our forest roads – protecting land owners from costly and unworkable requirements, and encouraging investments in our healthy forests.
Of course, to be able to create these jobs and make investments in Eastern Washington’s future, we must enact reforms. This bill makes common-sense reforms to strengthen the nutrition program’s integrity and accountability. Taxpayer savings are reached by enforcing eligibility while ensuring everyone receives the benefits they are intended to get under the current rules of the program.
While Eastern Washington is a leader in agriculture, passage of the Farm Bill affects everyone. It keeps more of your money in your pockets by reducing government spending by $23 billion over the next decade. It’s something we can all relate to – as job seekers, business owners, parents or taxpayers – and we can all join together in celebrating its passage.