News Releases

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell secured more than $20 million for Washington state’s agriculture priorities in the fiscal year 2007 Agriculture Appropriations bill.

“Agriculture is the backbone of the Washington state economy and this funding will go towards keeping it that way in a changing economic climate," said Senator Murray. "This funding will help a variety of Washington state agriculture-related industries by providing financial resources for scientific and technological advances."

Senator Cantwell said, “As our number one employer, agriculture remains the foundation of our economy and jobs in Washington state. I am very pleased with the commitment to agriculture in Washington state that the Senate Appropriations committee has provided. This funding for research across the state is critically important to help Washington’s farmers and ranchers maintain their competitive advantage and global market share by continuing to produce commodities of the highest quality and safety.”

Senators Murray and Cantwell also restored over $6.5 million in proposed Bush Administration cuts specifically for Agricultural Research Service Projects, including:

Agricultural Research Service Projects for which Funding was Cut by President Bush but Restored by Senators Murray and Cantwell (though some projects are based in OR, all projects benefit WA crops):

Increased Funding for:

  • Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research - Corvallis, OR increase of $250,000

  • Shellfish Genetics and Marine Ecology Research - Newport, OR increase of $150,000

Funded at FY06 Levels:

  • Minor Use Pesticides in - Prosser and Wapato

  • Potato Research Enhancement - Prosser

  • Viticulture Research - Prosser

  • Air Quality - Pullman

  • Grain Legume Plant Pathologist Position - Pullman

  • Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF) Virus - Pullman

  • Microbial Genomics Initiative - Pullman

  • National Germplasm Resources Program - Pullman

  • Root Diseases in Wheat and Barely - Pullman

  • Temperate Fruit Flies - Wapato

  • Virus Free Fruit Tree Cultivars - Wapato

  • Hops Research - Corvallis, OR

  • Regional Molecular Genotyping - Pullman

  • Western Wheat Quality Laboratory - Pullman

Among other projects in the bill, some highlights include:

Bioproducts ($500,000)
This proposed program will support the establishment of an economically competitive biodiesel industry in the Pacific Northwest by overcoming existing economic barriers through research and co-product development from waste product glycerol and seed meal. Locally produced biodiesel holds great potential in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and can help alleviate air quality issues associated with petroleum diesel use. Washington State University has renowned expertise in bioenergy / bioprocessing / bioproduct utilization and is currently engaged in an initiative to work on short-term, high impact research to benefit the emerging biofuels industry. This funding will be used to set up a competitive grant program directed at addressing research priorities.

Canadian Cattle Tracking Initiative ($250,000)
Canadian Feeder Cattle Tracking Initiative will be used to track the age and identity of Canadian feeder cattle into the United States. Washington state receives a substantial amount of feeder cattle from the region of Canada where multiple cases of BSE has been discovered making it imperative to accurately separate Canadian cattle from U.S. bred cattle. This funding will be critically important to the Washington State Veterinarian in working with cattle producers, feedlots and slaughter houses maintain accountability in identifying Canadian feeder cattle entering Washington state. The extra resources will greatly enhance Washington state’s ability to quickly respond to the discovery of disease and identify other animals potentially exposed.

National Clean Plant Network for Fruit Trees, Nut Trees, and Grapevines ($300,000)
This funding will support programs at Washington State University that will conduct virus elimination and testing of material from foreign and domestic plant and tree sources. Because viruses degrade the productivity and quality of our agricultural programs, domestic and international sales can be negatively impacted by the costs to treat their products. These funds will help support clean plant programs that are providing services for our farmers in Washington state and help keep our farmers competitive.

Pioneers in Conservation ($200,000)
This program will ensure the long-term continuity of farming in the Puget Sound by encouraging the implementation of projects and practices that benefit salmon, other fish and wildlife species and water quality while sustaining the viability of farming. This funding will support competitive grants to on-farm conservation projects that provide a variety of environmental benefits. This program follows the successful pilot program implemented by the Shared Strategy of Puget Sound, the American Farmland Trust, and the Nature Conservancy in 2005.

Agricultural Research Service Research Laboratory Construction (2,000,000)
Researchers from the Agricultural Research Service and Washington State University have enjoyed a long and effective partnership, collaborating on national and regional projects, and training students. This new facility will strengthen this federal-state partnership, and is critical to the future of agriculture in the Pacific Northwest.

Strengthening Organic Crops Research and Education ($355,000)
Washington state enjoys a rapidly growing organic foods industry, which is valued at more than $100 million. The WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources is developing a comprehensive organic farming research and education program. The Center’s plans include developing organic seed protection and production technology, determining the effect of production practices on nutritional content, developing organic weed control methods, water management, and pest control.

Wine Industry - ($319,000)
This funding will help create a virus-free source of rootstock to keep Washington state’s growing wine industry strong and competitive. As the industry grows, it needs a disease and virus-free “motherblock” of plant material to ensure that all planted grapevine is free of diseases that could devastate the broader industry. These research dollars will help build a new foundation block for distribution to growers, ensuring that our state’s wineries always have clean rootstock for planting new vineyards.

Asparagus Technology and Production ($246,000)
Washington State University and Michigan State University are jointly researching methods to reduce labor costs in the asparagus industry. The industry’s labor costs, combined with federal anti-drug and trade policies that have led to a disproportionate increase in imported asparagus have left Washington’s asparagus at a competitive disadvantage. This project will help the industry reduce labor costs while shifting its workforce to value-added employment.

Small Fruits Research ($439,000)
The Northwest Center for Small Fruits Research conducts coordinated research for berry and grape growers in Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Breeding and genetics research have tremendous potential to enhance the productivity and profitability of the small fruits industry in the Pacific Northwest. This funding will continue the Center’s work on genetics research, plant breeding, pest management and product quality improvement methods, which are critical to the long-term viability of the industry.

Competitiveness of Agricultural Products ($672,000)
This funding supports the International Marketing Program for Agricultural Commodities and Trade at Washington State University and the Center for International Trade in Forest Products at the University of Washington. These complementary programs apply science and technology to determine new export marketing opportunities, solve technical problems that impede exports, and develop new products, processes, technologies, or strategies to increase exports. These programs receive matching state and private-sector funding for specific projects.

Research on TSE Strains ($600,000) – Pullman
This funding will support diagnostic testing research on Scrapie, Chronic Wasting Disease and BSE at the Pullman Agriculture Research Service (ARS) facility. Scrapie, a nervous system disease in sheep similar to BSE in cows, has been a targeted disease for eradication by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for decades, but the disease has been intractable. This program brought about the first practical test for diagnosing the scrapie in live animals, and may help the livestock industry gain the upper hand on – and eventually eradicate – one of its worst problems. It may also help scientists find a live test for BSE. This funding will continue to support a research partnership between WSU and ARS to help find new ways to detect and eradicate these nervous system diseases.