Tester meets with Montana Lentil and Pea Growers

Senator discusses new initiatives in Farm Bill to improve Montanans’ health, economic opportunities

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester this week met with representatives – including three Montanans – of the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council to discuss the Council’s new initiatives to improve Montanans’ health and create jobs and economic opportunities for local producers.

The Council members thanked Tester for his work to successfully authorize the Pulse Health Initiative and the School Pulse Pilot Program in the recently-passed Farm Bill. The initiatives aim to increase awareness of the nutritional benefits of dry peas, lentils and chickpeas-also known as pulse crops-while also boosting demand for farmers’ products.

More Montana farmers are growing pulse crops, which have become an important source of revenue for growers.

“The Pea and Lentil Council’s hard work to create these important programs will help more Montana kids have healthy and bright futures and boost the fortunes of Montana farmers,” said Tester, a third-generation dry-land farmer and a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I will continue to support smart investments in research and food initiatives that tackle Montana’s biggest health problems and support more economic opportunities.”

Tester and Council members also discussed issues facing pulse growers in the upcoming planting season. Planted acres of pulse crops have increased approximately tenfold in the past 15 years.

The Farm Bill includes numerous other Tester priorities, including extending Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) through 2014, strong and permanent livestock disaster assistance programs, support for beginning farmers and ranchers and savings of $23 billion.

Joining Tester in his Washington, D.C. office were USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council Chairman Kim Murray from Froid, Board Representative Patrick Murray from Plentywood, Board Representative Chad Doheny from Dutton, Director of Research and Information Todd Scholz from Idaho, and Board Representative Neil Heitstuman from Idaho.