Congress’ failure to pass a farm bill could significantly hurt Washington state’s $46 billion agricultural industry, which relies heavily on Asian exports.
Sen. Maria Cantwell emphasized that point during an Aug. 16 press conference at the Vancouver, Wash., office of the Western U.S. Agricultural Trade Association, according to an Aug. 16 article in The Columbian, Vancouver.
Cantwell, D-Wash., avoided questions about political wrangling surrounding the bill and instead focused on the economic opportunities it would provide.
The agricultural industry remains Washington’s top employer, representing about 12% of its economy. It also accounts for about 70% of the Port of Vancouver’s exports.
Pears are one such crop, with about 40% going export, according to Kevin Moffitt, president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukie, Ore.-based Pear Bureau Northwest.
“We don’t have enough people in Washington to eat all those pears,” he said in the article.
The bill’s export assistance program, for example, helps some of the state’s 1,800 pear producers gain access to new markets, according to the article.
The Senate passed a version of the farm bill June 10. The House approved its version, which does not include food stamp funding, in July.
The two houses have yet to meet and draft compromise legislation, and Cantwell urged them to begin discussions before the Labor Day weekend recess.