Murray, McMorris Rodgers and Larsen Work to Help Washington Wheat Growers

Jun 27 2007

Legislation would direct the Agriculture Secretary to shore-up safety net for wheat growers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined with U.S. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) and Rick Larsen (WA-02) to introduce bi-partisan and bi-cameral legislation to provide targeted assistance for Washington state wheat farmers.  The Wheat Counter-Cyclical Payments Enhancement Act, introduced and supported by the three legislators, requires the Secretary of Agriculture to determine counter-cyclical payments for wheat by class instead of national averages.

With the enactment of the 2002 Farm Bill, the Secretary of Agriculture changed marketing loan rates by class for wheat.  Unfortunately, counter-cyclical payments were not restructured, leaving many wheat growers out of the intended safety net.  The Wheat Counter-Cyclical Payments Enhancement Act corrects this injustice and ensures fairness for all wheat growers.  

"Washington state wheat growers have suffered through drought, failed food aid policies and the high cost of fertilizer.  They shouldn't be falling through the loopholes of a safety net intended to help them," Senator Murray said.  "I am proud to have worked with my delegation colleagues to fix this broken system and give our wheat growers the resources they need to pursue their livelihoods and continue to provide for Washington state and the world."

"Our farm policy must allow our farmers to succeed and unfortunately the current counter-cyclical program is failing our soft white wheat growers in Eastern Washington," said Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers. "We need to enact effective counter-cyclical reform to improve the intended safety net for wheat growers and target assistance to those who need it the most, when they need it the most. I thank my colleagues for working with me on behalf of Eastern Washington wheat growers to correct this imbalance."

"We need a policy that reflects the realities of the marketplace and ensures that Washington's wheat farmers get the help they need when they need it most," said Congressman Larsen. "This common sense change will create a real safety net to help Washington wheat growers stay in business and keep producing the food our country needs in good times and bad."

"We are very excited that this bipartisan legislation is being introduced today. We remain concerned that farmers are not receiving the intended benefits of these safety net programs, and we are pleased that our elected officials are working hard to rectify this problem," said Jim White, President of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers.

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Representative Doc Hastings (WA-04) are cosponsors of the bill.