News Releases

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has included millions of dollars in federal funding for Washington state agriculture research priorities. This funding will support ongoing research for a wide range of Washington agricultural goods including legumes, potatoes, wine grapes, organic foods and berries. Senator Murray included the funding in the Fiscal Year 2010 Senate Agriculture Appropriations Bill which passed through the appropriations subcommittee today.

"This bill supports critical research projects that will help our farmers stay competitive in the global marketplace, and will help create jobs and economic opportunity in our state's rural communities " said Senator Murray. "Especially in this tough economy, we need to ensure that we continue to provide farmers with the research and technological advances that can give them a leg up and drive demand for our state’s number one employer.”

Senator Murray is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The spending bill will now move to the full Appropriations Committee, before moving to the full Senate for consideration.

In today's bill, Senator Murray added funding for the following Agriculture programs that are Washington state priorities:

Prosser, WA
Forage Crop Disease Genetic Research: $200,000
Recipient:  USDA Agricultural Research Service
Purpose:   This funding would be used for research to identify genetic markers for virus resistance in alfalfa, beans and pulse crops, which are susceptible to soil-borne viruses.
Importance:  This funding will enhance the critical research services to forage crops, which are a major contributor to Washington’s agriculture sector, and reduce the rate of diseases to these plants that result in losses to American agriculture that can exceed $1 billion annually.

Pullman, WA
Potato Research: $1,037,000
Recipient:  Washington State University
Purpose:  This funding will be used for research that will develop and commercialize new potato varieties that will result in improved product quality, increased yields and a decrease in input requirements.
Importance:  Potatoes are a valuable portion of the Pacific Northwest agricultural economy, with a farm gate value of $135 million.  This research will result in sustainable production for growers, increased competitiveness for the Northwest and U.S. potato industries, and a healthy food product for American consumers.

Pullman, WA
Cool Season Legume Research: $350,000
Recipient:   Washington State University
Purpose:  This funding will be used for research that supports the identification of genetically superior qualities for legumes through breeding processes.
Importance: Continuing this research is critical to the ongoing sustainability of the U.S. dry pea, lentil and chickpea industries, which are major contributors to Washington’s agriculture economy and producers of healthy foods sold worldwide.

Pullman, WA
Virus-Free Wine Grape Cultivars/Wine Grape Foundation Block: 260,000
Recipient: Washington State University
Purpose: This funding will be used for research to ensure virus-free vineyards and develop a virus-free foundation block of plant material that will be accessible to growers.
Importance: Viruses can quickly wipe out an entire vineyard, requiring costly replacement of plant material.   This research will reduce the likelihood of virus transmission within the industry, provide growers with clean plant material, and create a base for long-term growth of the industry.

Pullman, WA
Organic Cropping: $264,000

Recipient:  Washington State University
Purpose: This funding would be used to research nutrient, soil, pest, and seed management for sustainable organic agriculture and permit small farmers facing economic pressure to take advantage of research being performed.
Importance:  Research on organic farming will allow farmers to make their operations more environmentally-friendly, safer, and their products more marketable, particularly small farmers unable to perform their own research on organic growing methods.

Pullman, WA (and other locations)
Aegilops Cylindrica (Jointed Goatgrass): $200,000
Recipient: Washington State University
Purpose: This funding will be used for research to examine plant material for development of biofuels.
Importance:  This research will further efforts to develop cellulosic biofuels that grow best in the Pacific Northwest and contribute to our nation’s energy needs while removing weedy plant material from highly-productive grain-growing areas.

Pullman and Seattle, WA
Competitiveness of Agriculture Products: $400,000
Recipient: Washington State University/University of Washington
Purpose: This funding will be used to apply science and technology to improve the competitiveness of Washington’s agricultural products by determining new export marketing opportunities, assessing the effect of changing agricultural and trade policies, and solving technical problems.
Importance:  Ensuring continued export opportunities is critical to the overall economy of the Pacific Northwest and this program specifically benefits Washington’s rural economies by keeping producers competitive in a global marketplace.

Pullman, WA/Moscow, ID/Corvallis, OR
Grass Seed Cropping Systems for a Sustainable Agriculture: $150,000
 Washington State University/University of Idaho/Oregon State University
Purpose:  This funding will be used for research on critical environmental and economic challenges facing the cool season forage and turfgrass industries, and will focus on developing sustainable production systems.
Importance: This research will assist producers of cool season forage and turfgrass, over 90 percent of which is produced in the Pacific Northwest.

Corvallis, Oregon
Small Fruit Research: $300,000
Recipient:  Oregon State University
Purpose:  The Center provides competitive grant funds for peer reviewed research into plant diseases of small fruits crops caused by infectious diseases and environmental conditions.
Importance:    In partnership with industry funds, this work will enhance berry and grape product quality related to marketability, thereby ensuring that growers remain competitive in the global marketplace, and allowing berry, grape and small fruit farming to remain viable in the Pacific Northwest.

Corvallis, Oregon
Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research: $275,000
Recipient: USDA Agricultural Research Service
Purpose: The Center performs research into the needs of small fruits crop producers in the Pacific Northwest in coordination with federal and university researchers.
Importance: Through partnership with industry and university researchers and funds, this research keeps production of berries, grapes and wine a growing, employing and highly productive industry in the Pacific Northwest.

Cereal Rust Disease Initiative: $2,000,000
Recipient: USDA Agricultural Research Service
Purpose: This funding would be used for research to address highly virulent and aggressive new varieties of steam, leaf and stripe rust, which threaten U.S. production of wheat, barley and oats.
Importance:  Diseases cost the wheat, barley and oat industries billions of dollars per year in lost production and low quality end-use products.  With this research, we will be able to avoid diseases that could destroy staple crops and maintain food security.