ICYMI: Senator Murray Statement on the President’s Budget Request – MORE HERE
***WATCH: Senator Murray’s full remarks and questioning***
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at a Senate Appropriations Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing with Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on the President’s FY24 budget for the Department of Agriculture, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke about why strong investments to support farmers, secure the nation’s food supply, and fight food insecurity are necessary to have strong communities and healthy families.
“At the most basic level: we can’t have strong communities if people can’t put food on the table, that’s as important as it is obvious. We have to make sure that our food supply is secure, and that means protecting our families from unsafe food. It means protecting them from shortages—so avoiding and mitigating supply chain disruptions, addressing the climate crisis, like droughts, which can threaten crops that all of us rely on. And it also means addressing food insecurity so the food families need to stay safe and healthy is available, and accessible, and affordable,” said Senator Murray. “This is essential to keeping our nation strong—not to mention competitive.”
At the hearing, Senator Murray asked Secretary Vilsack about how funding research at institutions like Washington State University is critical to strengthening the nation’s food supply. She also discussed the importance of food assistance programs, which were critical to supporting her family when she was growing up. Senator Murray made clear she will be pushing on the Appropriations committee to support programs like WIC, school lunches, and the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, as well as pushing to support SNAP benefits as Congress negotiates the farm bill this year.
“I’m very concerned about the House GOP calling for steep cuts to critical programs like our federal food assistance. My family relied on food stamps when I was growing up and my dad lost his job because he got sick, so I really understand how important this is for people. And I am focused on making sure that we support SNAP and the families who rely on it in the Farm Bill this year.” said Senator Murray.
Senator Murray then went on to ask about how cuts proposed by House Republicans could also undermine the work of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is critical to water storage projects in Yakima and Columbia basins in Washington state.
“Underfunded local staff are stretched really thin, and it would be an enormous mistake I believe to make things worse by gutting these agencies working to conserve our vital watersheds,” said Senator Murray.