U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) toured the WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center on Saturday, as the deadline to reauthorize the national Farm Bill nears.

Sen. Stabenow is the chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, while Sen. Cantwell is the chair for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Sen. Stabenow is leading the Farm Bill, which needs to be passed every five years and is set to expire on Sep. 30, 2023.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) established policy and funding for various agricultural industries and types of food assistance under this Farm Bill.

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Both Senators were joined by nearly 30 Washington state agriculture leaders for this forum, which was hosted by Wenatchee-based growers McDougall & Sons.

Before the forum, the senators toured McDougall & Sons’ orchard and packing facility, and after the forum they toured the WSU Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center. 

While at the center, lawmakers explored the Overley Lab, where both the Cosmic Crisp apple and the WA-64 apple were first created.

“This is a key moment for all of us to think about our changing environment, the challenges of getting to overseas markets that we want to have access to, the amount of money we want to see in ag research, [and] the progress we want to keep making in helping this sector thrive and grow,” Sen. Cantwell said at the forum. “It just shows you how economies change, how agriculture changes, and why we need to have a strong Farm Bill. I know there are growers here and interests from all over the state, and I thank them for being here too, because there’s diversity to our products.”

On that same day, the WSU Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center also celebrated their 50th anniversary.

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