Senator Murray hosted a roundtable meeting today in Spokane with local transportation and agricultural representatives. At the meeting, she discussed the importance of better transportation infrastructure in helping farmers get their goods to market. Senator Murray let business leaders in Spokane know that, as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, she will continue to help strengthen the local economy by funding better transportation infrastructure.

Senator Murray's remarks follow:

Thank you, Mark, for that introduction. And, thank you all of you for joining me to talk about some of the transportation challenges facing our state’s agricultural industry. I’m really looking forward to our discussion this morning, because I know how important agriculture is to our state.

You may not know, but my grandfather moved his family to the Tri-Cities in the early 1900s to take a job with Welch’s. My dad grew up picking asparagus. I grew up understanding how important our family farms and businesses are to Washington state’s economy and I’ve never forgotten that.

Agriculture is part of our state’s heritage, but it’s also an economic machine. Today, Washington’s agricultural industry is valued at more than $29 billion, makes up 13% of the state’s economy, and employs more than 160,000 people. So I know what you already know that families and communities in every corner of this state depend on your success.

But I also know that if you can’t get your goods to markets then we threaten the long-term health of the industry. Today, 1 in 4 jobs in our state rely on international trade. Washington is the third largest exporter of food and agricultural products in the nation.

Those products move to market in a variety of ways -- from barges to trucks to railcars. And when you’re dealing with transporting goods, any number of issues can affect the amount of time it takes to get a product from the producer to the consumer.

That's why I've worked so hard to improve the transportation infrastructure throughout the state. As the senior Democrat on the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee in the Senate I’ve fought to bring home funding to pay for improvements ranging from widening Highway 12, dredging the Columbia River system to purchasing more railcars to help our potato farmers.

I know we have more work to do. And that’s why I’m excited to have such a diverse group of people here to help me learn more about what we can be doing at the federal level to help address some of these challenges. I want to make sure that we keep this dialogue going after today's meeting, so please make sure my staff have your business cards so we can keep in touch.