Pulse crops get research dollars in eastern Washington to help agriculture thrive

PULLMAN, WA - Senator Maria Cantwell was in Eastern Washington Friday to explain how the farm bill will benefit the state's agriculture.

KLEW News had a chance to meet with Senator Cantwell in Pullman. We asked her why she was one of the main supporters of the bill and how it will help farmers.

"It's a jobs bill because everyone eats," said US Dry Pea and Lentil Council Director of Research and Information Todd Scholz. "And so anyone who eats is affected by the farm Bill."

Congress passed the Farm Bill February seventh, and Washington Senator Maria Cantwell was one of its main supporters.

"Well, you know, to me I think we should have done it two years ago because here our economy was struggling in a recession and I know that if you give farmers the certainty and predictability, they'll help create more jobs and economic opportunities for us," said Senator Cantwell.

Senator Cantwell toured the Agricultural Research Lab at Washington State University on Friday morning. She explained that facilities like this will benefit from the Farm Bill's research investments.

"When you do the research, you basically can help give farmers certainty that their products are not going to be susceptible to certain kinds of pests or problems," said Cantwell.

Senator Cantwell said eastern Washington has a lot to gain from the Farm Bill because its agricultural lands are one of the leading producers of "pulse crops" in the nation.

"The more people can eat pulse crops, the better health they're going to have," said Cantwell.

Pulse crops are fairly inexpensive foods that are high in protein, fiber and other nutrients. Cantwell said her "Pulse School Pilot" provision and "Pulse Health Initiative" will increase the demand for these crops, and help agriculture in eastern Washington thrive.

"Some of the products like peas, and lentils and chickpeas, and wheat will now get the research dollars to help us continue to be competitive," said Cantwell.

The Farm Bill's Pulse School Pilot Program will enable schools to try new recipes and buy more peas, lentils and chickpeas. The Pulse Health Initiative will fund research that looks into the health and nutritional benefits of pulse crops, including their ability to reduce obesity and prevent diseases.