(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) applauded an agreement reached between Senate and House of Representatives negotiators on a new Farm Bill. The Farm Bill will benefit farmers in Washington state through a variety of agriculture, food, conservation, energy and rural development programs.

"Agriculture is the driving force behind our state's economy, and the investments in this Farm Bill will help keep it that way for years to come," said Senator Murray. "By providing meaningful support for specialty crop growers, nutrition programs for families, and conservation programs for our lands, this Farm Bill benefits all Washingtonians."

Summary of the entire Farm Bill

Provisions that Senator Murray worked to include in today's Farm Bill agreement follow:

Specialty Crops

The Farm Bill contains significant funding for farmers who grow fruits and vegetables – which are referred to in the bill as specialty crops. Washington ranks third in the nation for specialty crop production overall.  It is first in the nation in the production of several individual specialty crops, including apples, red raspberries, sweet cherries, pears, and Concord grapes.  

"I'm especially pleased that this bill will provide comprehensive help for fruit, vegetable and other specialty crop growers." said Senator Murray. "These growers are a big part of why agriculture is Washington’s largest industry, and in a globally competitive market they need all the support we can provide. The Specialty Crop Block Grants included in this bill will assist local growers with the specific investments they need to increase the competitiveness of their crops, such as research and marketing assistance.”

Asparagus - $15 million

The farm bill includes $15 million for an asparagus market loss program. Historically, asparagus has been a major crop for Washington state farmers but recently asparagus farmers are hurting because of competition from growers in Peru. The Andean Trade Preference Act has allowed Peruvian asparagus to flood the market.

"Between foreign competition, labor shortages, and poor weather, our asparagus growers are truly struggling," said Senator Murray. "That's why I've fought to include a market loss program in this bill that will assist them through these very difficult times and help to keep our asparagus industry viable.”

Senator Murray delivered a speech on the importance of assisting asparagus growers.

National Clean Plant Network - $20 million

The National Clean Plant Network is a new program funded in the Farm Bill that will ensure safe, virus-free plant materials are available to orchards, vineyards and other growers.  A single plant or grape vine has the potential to infect an established orchard or vineyard, and crops such as apples and grapes are particularly vulnerable to viruses. 

“One of the most devastating things for our orchards and vineyards is an outbreak of disease," said Senator Murray. "In order to keep crops healthy and the local economy growing, farmers need safe, virus-free plant materials. The National Clean Plant Network will ensure that certified healthy plant materials are available to orchards, vineyards and other growers."


The 2007 Farm Bill also contains funding increases for important nutrition programs, such as the Food and Nutrition Program (formerly the Food Stamp Program).  Increased funding and ending benefit erosion for the Food and Nutrition Program will strengthen the food purchasing power of low-income Americans.  The bill also includes $1 billion for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Snack program, which will ensure that fresh fruits and veggies will be available in schools all over the nation.

"I'm pleased that this bill contains nutrition programs that will help many low-income Washingtonians put a full, nutritious meal on the table for their families." Murray said.

Puget Sound Conservation

Senator Murray worked to make Puget Sound a priority under the Partnerships and Cooperation program, which will help get conservation projects off the ground.  This program, based on the highly successful Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), will be open to conservation districts, tribes, local and state governments, and non-governmental organization.