Washington’s First Congressional District has a thriving agriculture industry that plays a key role in our local economy. Our district has some of the most fertile agricultural land in the Pacific Northwest and more than 3,000 farms that grow a large variety of fruits, vegetables and seeds. We are also home to a number of dairy farms.
As a former member of the House Committee on Agriculture, and the former Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research, I will continue to be a tireless advocate on behalf of our local farmers and food producers. I will fight for programs that support specialty (fruit and vegetable) and organic crops, cutting edge research, conservation of our forests, trade and job-creating investments that ensure we have a vibrant local agricultural industry in western Washington. To that end, each year I have led a bipartisan letter in support of increased agriculture research. In addition, this session of Congress, I was appointed to serve on the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tax policy and trade, two critical areas for agriculture.
I was honored to play a leading role, as the only Member of Congress from Washington state on the conference committee, in crafting the five-year Farm Bill . The 2014 Farm Bill included a number of reforms that will help reduce the deficit by more than $16 billion. It included unprecedented increases in funding for research and programs that support Washington state's specialty crop growers and organic farms, reauthorized important trade promotion programs that will help open up new markets for our farmers, and included critical funding for conservation and alternative energy programs.
The Farm Bill also included new dairy support programs to aid producers. As a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Dairy Caucus, I will continue fighting to improve this program and for dairy policies that support producers across our state.
I also introduced a bipartisan resolution with support from Members of Congress around the country that emphasizes the importance of specialty crops. Specialty crops are a growing and increasingly significant part of agriculture, accounting for about half of the value of U.S. crop production in a given year, but they are not discussed nearly as much as some of the more traditional commodities.
The farmers and businesses in the agriculture industry look to Congress to create sound agriculture and food policy, and they deserve the clarity that will enable them to plan for the future. As we look ahead to the 2018 Farm Bill and beyond, I will continue working to ensure that our local farmers and food producers have a strong voice in Congress.