Murray's Work

Agricultural Research

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Murray works regularly with Washington State University, commodity organizations, and other agricultural stakeholders to identify and fund high-priority research projects in the Pacific Northwest.

Each year, Senator Murray fights to protect research funding in the Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.  She has also championed funding to strengthen organic crops research and education, and to create a virus-free “motherblock” of plant material so that Washington’s growing wine industry remains strong and competitive.

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Farm Bill

The 2008 Farm Bill was a great victory for Washington state farmers because of the resources it put into fruits and vegetables, nutrition programs, rural development, conservation, and alternative energy.  While it was being considered in the Senate, Senator Murray supported the inclusion of important agricultural programs that benefit Washington state’s farmers, producers, and families, such as:

  • Investments in Specialty Crops (fruits and vegetables) – This was the first Farm Bill to make comprehensive and meaningful investments in specialty crop programs that will help Washington state growers stay competitive in the global marketplace.  About $3 billion in block grants, marketing assistance, and research funding assists fruit and vegetable producers across the nation.
  • The National Clean Plant Network – The Farm Bill included $20 million to help provide a source of clean, virus-free root and plant stocks to keep our tree fruit, wine-grape, and nut tree industries prosperous.  The epicenter of this effort is at the Washington State University-Prosser campus.
  • Asparagus Market Loss Program – Our asparagus farmers continue to struggle to compete against cheap imports from Peru.  The 2008 Farm Bill contained $15 million to help U.S. asparagus farmers devastated by concessions made to Latin American trading partners.
  • Nutrition Programs for Children and Seniors – The Farm Bill included a $10 billion increase for nutrition programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program) that helps ensure that children, seniors, and low-income families can afford to put healthy food on the table.  The 2008 Farm Bill sent $9 million in nutrition program funding to Washington State in 2009 alone, and it will provide $164 million to the state over the next 10 years.  
  • Conservation Programs – The 2008 Farm Bill boosted funding for agricultural conservation programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Reserve Program, and the Wildlife Habitat Incentive Program. These programs give farmers and landowners the tools they need as they face tough resource challenges.
  • Safety Net – The Farm Bill provides a safety net for Washington’s wheat, pea, and lentil growers, which is critical during tough times when prices are down.

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Farm Support Programs

Senator Murray has fought to ensure our state’s farmers have adequate financial support during tough times and to ensure that they can keep farming.

  • Commodity ProgramsSenator Murray has worked to ensure that farm laws provide new opportunities for all farmers, and that when prices are low, farmers can get the federal assistance they need to get them through hard times.

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Transportation

Transportation is a very important part of Washington’s agriculture industry.  As Chair of the Senate Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, and a member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Murray has fought to ensure farmers can continue to move their products from the farm to the marketplace by funding programs such as:

  • Maintenance of the Columbia River’s locks, dams, and channel depth, to ensure that barges filled with agricultural products can easily navigate the river.
  • The Washington State Produce Rail Car Program to restore and refurbish rail cars so that more are available to move perishable commodities such as fruits and vegetables. 
  • The Port of Walla Walla intermodal freight facilities, providing needed rail access for farmers to transport fresh produce to the east coast rapidly aboard RailEx trains with state of the art refrigeration compartments and advanced shipping techniques.

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Market Access

Senator Murray is fighting to break down barriers that have limited where Washington growers can sell their products, to ensure they can remain competitive in a global economy.  To help open markets, she has:

  • Strongly supported the Market Access Program, which reimburses industry groups for marketing and promotional activities done overseas.
  • Worked to open foreign markets to U.S. beef.  

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Nutrition

Hunger is an ongoing crisis that hits seniors and children especially hard. 

Through annual appropriations and legislation, such as the 2008 Farm Bill, Senator Murray has fought to expand critical programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called the Food Stamp Program), the Emergency Food Assistance Program, child nutrition programs like the School Lunch and Breakfast Programs, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), so that low-income children, seniors, and families can get enough to eat.

Senator Murray has also worked to expand initiatives such as the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Snack Program and the Farm-to-Cafeteria Program, which help ensure school children get fresh fruits and vegetables while providing our local farmers with another market for their produce.

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Ensuring Access to the Workforce that our Farmers Need

Our immigration system is broken, and fixing our immigration policies is critical for communities and industries in Washington state and across our nation.  It’s time for comprehensive immigration reform that will enhance our country’s security, strengthen the economy, and reflect our core American values.

Because seasonal farmworkers are critical to our state’s agriculture industry, Senator Murray has also been a longtime supporter of the Agricultural Job Opportunity, Benefits, and Security Act (AgJOBS). Senator Murray will continue to fight in the Senate for farmers’ workforce needs and for farmworkers.

Senator Murray is also working to ensure that farmworkers have housing, health care, education, and job training by:

  • Helping to create the Washington State Farmworker Housing Trust.
  • Connecting farmers to job training, such as the National Farmworker Jobs Program, which is a part of the Workforce Investment Act.
  • Supporting migrant education programs, such as the College Assistance Migrant Program.

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When Disaster Strikes

The federal government has a long history of responding to agricultural disasters, and Senator Murray believes that we have a responsibility to provide aid when disaster strikes our farmers.  That’s why she worked to include a permanent agricultural disaster program in the 2008 Farm Bill, which insures that our growers have access to disaster aid when they need it.

Senator Murray has also long supported allowing farmers to purchase better crop insurance. She will continue to work to ensure that Washington farmers can access critical crop insurance and disaster programs.