In the early 2000s the U.S. government encouraged Peruvian farmers to grow asparagus instead of drugs. [The policy was implemented through the Andean Trade Preferences Act.] Northwest asparagus growers say that policy devastated them.
Since then, all the processing plants in Washington State have moved to South America where labor and environmental costs are lower.
Now those who can prove they were hurt by that policy will share $15 million from an earmark to the U.S. agriculture bill.
Terri Hayles farms north of Pasco, Washington. She says the payment will be nice but: "The reality is, the money that the growers lost, this doesn't even pay the interest on what we lost. They're willing to compensate us something, which is better than nothing."
In 1990, Washington farmers produced 110 million pounds of asparagus. Last year they harvested just 17 million pounds.
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