(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced last week that she has added $400,000 to help Washington state farmers take advantage of more market opportunities in an annual Senate spending bill. The funding will go to the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC) in Mt. Vernon, WA to help support a network that will better connect local producers with markets. The funding was added to the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill which passed the full Appropriations Committee last Thursday (7/12). Senator Murray is senior member of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee.
"We need to make sure that Washington state farmers, particularly specialty crop and dairy farmers, take advantage of every market that is open to them," said Senator Murray. "This funding will be used by the NABC to facilitate communications between producers and retailers so that more local farm products make it to more markets."
Specifically, the funding will be utilized by the NABC to help the program grow, to work to connect smaller producers to markets, to build relationships between the program and potential purchasers of local food products; and to purchase computer hardware and software - to be located at NABC headquarters - that will support an effective communications system.
“We are seeing an increase in consumer demand for safe, nutritious food that is produced locally,” said David Bauermeister, Executive Director of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center. “This funding for the Northwest Agriculture Business Center will be used to create a network of people, products and facilities for bringing the farm to market and increasing the profitability of these farms.”
Services that will be provided by the NABC include:
- Negotiating participation by retailers, restaurants, institutional buyers, distributors and other potential customers in the program.
- Helping to reduce overhead expenses between purchasers and producers.
- Training and education about business practices and terms to support product development.
- Evaluation of startup size and financial capabilities of producers to match to appropriate market opportunity.
- Assistance in product development and evaluation to ensure products are acceptable to the marketplace.
The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill will now move to the full Senate for consideration.