The Farm Bill enacted into law in 2018 expires this year and 8th District Congresswoman Kim Schrier is reaching out to local farmers and ranchers to gather ideas and feedback.

At the Washington Apple Commission in Wenatchee today (4/3), Representative Schrier met with 25 agricultural leaders for a listening session on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs (SNAP), crop insurance, conservation, climate change and more.

"I want to make sure that as we do this once every five-year bill, that I get our priorities in there, because I'm not having a shot at it until five years from now." Representative Schrier said. "I am now in the minority party, so I have less control. But the great news is that I have solidified some good relationships over the last four years, and already have been working on partnerships."

Schrier talked briefly about those partnerships before moving on to the "round table", listening to input from stakeholders.

Michelle Hennings, executive director of the Washington Association of Wheat Growers, notes the organization hasn't seen a funding increase in the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD) and the Market Access Program (MAP) for many years.

"We need more money for our market access to foreign relations. We've developed these relationships, this funding, and so I feel we need more of that. There's a whole wide world out there that we can benefit." Hennings said.

Lindsay Huber with the Washington Apple Commission highlighted the importance of the Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) to help exporters develop new markets. Teah Smith with the Zirkle Fruit Company talked about the Plant Protection Act and the substantial threat of the Little Cherry Virus.

One by one, Schrier went around the room and listened to the concerns of each stakeholder, jotting down their requests to take to Congress for consideration and negotiation of the Farm Bill.

"Farmers, orchardists, ranchers, conservation district representatives, food bank representatives about what should be included in the upcoming farm bill because it touches all of those areas." Schrier said. "I heard lots of comments about the importance of research about the importance of crop insurance, especially with a changing climate, about resiliency, supporting family farms."

Congresswoman Schrier was recently named the Chair of the New Democrat Coalition’s Farm Bill Task Force. She says she intends to guide a group of nearly 100 members of Congress towards crafting a bill that supports Washington farmers and families.

"It's important for me to have everything top of mind as we go into these Farm Bill negotiations," Schrier said. "There were a few programs mentioned today that I had not heard of, very small programs. I'll take those back to my staff in DC to talk about them and make sure we advocate for a boost in funding."

Wenatchee was the second visit of Schrier's Farm Bill listening tour. She held a session in Pierce County last month. She plans to visit with farmers and ranchers in North King County and Snohomish County the week of May 1st.

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