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November 22, 2012 at 4:00 PM

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Farm bill dependent on budget cuts

Time is running out

Washington state needs to tell Congress that it’s time to pass a farm bill [“Farm bill could hinge on budget talks,” News, Nov. 10]. Despite what most people think, the farm bill is actually a “nutrition bill” aimed at delivering food to the most needy. It’s also an important source of funding for agriculture research and higher education in Washington state.

Potato farmers, like all other fruit and vegetable farmers in our state, don’t receive direct payment subsides. Their needs are for strategic government investments in research that will help them grow more food using fewer resources.

This cutting-edge research and technology keeps Washington farmers competitive in a global economy, expands exports and protects the No. 1 job provider in this state. Just our 300 potato farmers alone are responsible for more than 23,000 jobs and more than $4.6 billion in economic activity.

Passing the Senate or House committee version of the farm bill will also trim the federal deficit by $23 billion to $35 billion. Time is running out. Let’s feed the hungry, reduce the deficit, expand exports and protect our jobs. Congress must pass a farm bill during this lame-duck session.

— Chris Voigt, executive director, Washington State Potato Commission, Moses Lake

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