The new U.S. Senator in Massachusetts , Mo Cowan, was on a fact-finding tour in western Massachusetts Friday. Cowan is getting up to speed on farm policy.
The new senator visited the 800 acre Nourse Farm in Whately. The owners of the family farm expect to sell 30 million fruit plants including strawberries, blueberries and raspberries to growers in the United States and overseas this year. It has an onsite research center for developing plants that are disease resistant.
Cowan said the Nourse Farm is an example of a business that should be spared from the impact of across the board federal spending cuts. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Cowan will be involved in helping to craft a new Farm Bill.
Cowan joined the Senate Agriculture Committee last week. He is the first senator from Massachusetts to sit on that committee since 1879.
Accompanying Cowan on his tour was Massachusetts Agricultural Commissioner Gregory Watson and the state’s Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan, whose agency oversees agriculture and land use issues. Sullivan said it is very significant for Massachusetts to have a senator on the agriculture committee.
A new five- year Farm Bill is a priority for most agricultural interests in the country. Congress failed to pass a bill last year, and instead approved an extension of the farm bill that will expire September 30th. Nate Nourse, a co-owner of Nourse Farm, said there are a lot programs in the Farm Bill important to his business and his customers.
Cowan also visited Enterprise Farm in Whately. It is an example of community supported agriculture, and has a mobile farmers’ market.
Cowan was appointed interim senator three weeks ago by Governor Patrick to replace John Kerry, who resigned to become Secretary of State. Cowan will be the state’s junior senator until a special election on June 25th. Cowan is not a candidate in the special election. He said again today he has no interest in elected office.