Last month, Washington Association of Wheat Growers (WAWG) leaders and staff joined more than a dozen Washington agricultural stakeholders on a trip to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the state’s incredible ag industry at the 4th annual Taste of Washington event.
The group included representatives from the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Washington State University, the Washington Grain Commission, the Washington Wine Commission, the Washington Potato Commission, the Northwest Horticultural Council, and the Washington Conservation Commission, among others. They visited with members of the state’s federal delegation, majority and minority House and Senate ag committee staffers, and several U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) representatives to talk about the importance of the farm bill and trade, federal investment in research, and conservation.
To finish off the trip, the Taste of Washington reception showcased Washington’s diverse food products to nearly 300 people, including congressional staff and members of Congress.
“By attending meetings with legislators as a group from all different parts of agriculture, we highlight the cooperation and the partnerships we have across the industry. It makes our message stronger, and legislators are more willing to hear concerns when they come from such a diverse group,” said Michelle Hennings, WAWG executive director.
The group discussed farm bill priorities with both the Senate and House ag committees. In a meeting with Robert Bonnie, undersecretary for farm production and conservation at USDA, the group discussed staffing issues at state and county offices, Inflation Reduction Act funding and roll-out, improvements to the Conservation Reserve Program, and disaster funding. Research was on the agenda during a meeting with Chavonda Jacobs-Young, USDA’s chief scientist and the USDA undersecretary for research, education, and economics.
The Washington legislators who met with wheat industry representatives included Rep. Dan Newhouse, Rep. Kim Schrier, Rep. Suzan DelBene, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Rep. Rick Larsen, Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez, Sen. Patty Murray, and Sen. Maria Cantwell.