Senate agriculture committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow will kick off the Washington Public Policy Conference, delivering the keynote address at the opening general session breakfast Tuesday, Oct. 1. In her role as chair of the Senate agriculture committee, Stabenow plays a pivotal role in shaping U.S. agricultural policies. Stabenow will discuss the public policy opportunities and challenges facing the produce industry, including the status of the farm bill and comprehensive immigration reform.
Stabenow, long considered the congressional champion of specialty crops, spearheaded efforts in advancing the 2013 farm bill through the Senate. This important piece of legislation increases funding to key policy priorities for the produce industry, including specialty crop block grants ($70 million), specialty crop research initiative ($50 million), pest and plant disease mitigation ($65 million), market access program ($200 million) and the fresh fruit and vegetable program ($150 million).
Stabenow has used the 2013 farm bill passed by the Senate in June to build on the nearly $3 billion total commitment to specialty crop programs begun in the 2008 farm bill by increasing investments in these important programs during the 2013 farm bill debate. In addition, Stabenow has been a strong supporter of other key industry priorities, such as passage of comprehensive immigration reform that includes a new agriculture guest worker program.
“Chairwoman Stabenow is a strong supporter of the nation’s produce industry and has shown outstanding leadership for advancing the farm bill in the Senate, as well as her work on other important legislation,” Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management and communication, said in a press release. “We look forward to hearing her views about how we can work with her and other lawmakers to ensure that the produce industry gets the support it needs on research, marketing, labor and so many other industry priorities.”
Stabenow brings extensive political experience to her role as Senate agriculture committee Chairwoman. She served on the Michigan House of Representatives for 12 years and the state Senate for four years. In 1996, Stabenow was elected to the U.S. Congress representing Michigan’s Eighth Congressional District. Stabenow made history when she became the first woman from the state of Michigan elected to the U.S. Senate.
Stabenow headlines the United Fresh Washington Public Policy Conference, which brings together produce industry leaders to advocate on Capitol Hill for critical public policies needed to keep America’s produce industry competitive. During the conference, produce industry leaders meet with key members of Congress and their staff, as well as officials from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration.