Congresswoman Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today spoke with local farmers at Washington State University’s (WSU) Mount Vernon Research Center.

“It’s an honor to host Secretary Vilsack in the beautiful and abundant First District,” DelBene said. “Our farmers produce some of the finest dairy, berries and other produce, while also being home to some of the most wonderful forests the country has to offer. Washington farmers are a vital part of our state’s economy, contributing $49 billion of economic activity each year. Since being elected to Congress, it’s been a priority of mine to get the Secretary out here to see for himself all of the amazing work being done in our region and I’m glad he was able to join our farmers today.”

This was Secretary Vilsack’s first visit to Washington’s First District. Local farmers and community leaders asked the Secretary questions on farming, nutrition and forestry, among other topics.

“I want to thank Congresswoman DelBene for giving me the opportunity to meet with Washington farmers and ranchers to discuss the Farm Bill, national nutrition policy and the importance of agricultural exports,” Vilsack said. “The rural economy in Washington is robust and vibrant due to the productivity of the state’s farmers and ranchers. The 2014 Farm Bill gave us a strong safety net, cutting edge conservation programs and new opportunities for local and regional food systems, in no small part due to Congresswoman DelBene’s efforts.”

DelBene serves on the House Agriculture Committee and helped shepherd passage of a five-year farm bill as a member of the conference committee, which negotiated the final deal. The Congresswoman was able to preserve critical nutrition assistance programs while expanding funding for research and specialty crops (fruits and vegetables). She also serves as Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research.