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Posted on Nov 27, 2019

Remembering the producers on Thanksgiving: Column

By Rep. Dan Newhouse

Each Thanksgiving, I am reminded that in Central Washington, we have a lot to be thankful for. We are blessed with gorgeous national forests and public lands, powerful rivers and dams, and bountiful farm land.
As we gather with our families and friends to reflect on our gratitude, let us not forget to thank the farmers and ranchers who produce food to feed the United States and the world. We are fortunate to be surrounded by a diverse agriculture industry, with over 300 unique commodities being grown in Washington state.
Many of our state’s products may find their way to your Thanksgiving table this year. Your mashed or scalloped potatoes may have been produced in Grant County. The cranberries in your cranberry sauce could have been harvested from a bog in Southwest Washington. The butter you spread might come from a dairy farm in the Yakima Valley, and the wine you use to cheers to good health may be made from our region’s world-famous wine grapes.
A lot of hard work goes into growing our food, and on Thanksgiving – and every day – we should take steps to show our gratitude to American producers.
One of the ways we can show our thanks is by urging Speaker Nancy Pelosi to allow Congress to vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. The USMCA is ready to go, and our farmers are in desperate need of a strong trade agreement with Canada and Mexico. Washington’s agriculture industry would see enormous benefits from the USMCA, with duty-free access for most agricultural products and expanded access in Canada for U.S. dairy and wine products – two huge economic drivers in Central Washington.
In order to harvest our food, our producers are in need of a strong, stable, and legal workforce. We must create certainty for farmers and farmworkers by strengthening our H-2A guest worker program. My bill, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, will do just that and provide relief to the farmers and ranchers who are struggling to find labor, due simply to the fact that they have no one to help harvest.
At the same time, we must support agriculture research and technology. Washington State University is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s biggest recipient of research funding, and I am proud to support the groundbreaking research that is occurring right here in Central Washington. Scientists are actively working with partners in Central Washington to develop new, innovative technologies to help farmers. At the WSU Irrigated Agriculture Research and Extension Center in Prosser, they are studying disease prevention in some of our region’s most important crops, like apples and wine grapes, and they are focusing heavily on precision agriculture, including automation and robotics to help make a farmer’s job a little easier.
These are all ways we can thank those who work so hard to put our food on the table, and I am proud to work in Congress to advance these and other priorities for Central Washington agriculture.
I am wishing you and your family a very happy Thanksgiving. May it be filled with love, joy, and gratitude.

Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., represents Washington’s 4th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. To send an email to Rep. Newhouse, go to https://newhouse.house.gov/contact.