Washington congressional delegation ramps up Farm Bill efforts

Democratic U.S. Sens. Maria Cantwell, left, and Patty Murray of Washington

As Congress continues to hammer out the details on the 2023 Farm Bill, Southwest Washington’s congressional delegation has been working to ensure that Washington residents will benefit from the bill.

Two weeks ago, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., hosted a roundtable in Wenatchee with 30 state agriculture leaders to discuss their wishes for the bill. As chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Cantwell’s work is focused on ensuring that Washington state farmers are receiving enough federal support for a strong economy.

“This is a key moment for all of us to think about our changing environment, the challenges of getting to overseas markets that we want to have access to, the amount of money we want to see in ag research, [and] the progress we want to keep making in helping this sector thrive and grow,” Cantwell said at the roundtable, according to a press release.

The 2023 Farm Bill will unlock hundreds of billions of federal dollars to bolster the agricultural economy for the next five years. Most of the money will go toward nutrition programs, and the rest will be split among several agricultural programs, such as conservation efforts, energy initiatives, forestry, crop insurance and financial credit for farmers.

The 2018 Farm Bill will expire at the end of this year.

U.S. Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, D-Skamania, who sits on the House Agriculture Committee, said much of her focus in the next few months will be on the Farm Bill.

“It’s a big deal, we still have some budget starting to trudge through,” she said in an interview earlier this week. “I’m still very hopeful that we can actually get some energy permitting reforms done.”

Last week, Perez appeared on The Hot Dish, a podcast hosted by former U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp, to speak about rural communities and the importance of the Farm Bill.

“Just to light a fire under everyone’s tail here, we are on the brink of over half of the American diet being imported, and the survival and the preservation of our small producers, of a diversity of producers, that is a national security issue,” Perez said on the podcast.

Sen. Murray, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has called for Congress to support food assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

“At the most basic level: we can’t have strong communities if families can’t put food on the table or kids go hungry—that’s as important as it is obvious,” Murray said in a press release this week.

— Carlos Fuentes

Scroll to top