Washington produce shipments play an integral part of the Evergreen state’s economy.
The state has rich soils, abundant fresh water, low cost hydropower, a favorable climate and hard-working people. Washington farm lands grow more than 300 varieties of crops, which is second only to California in crop diversity, according to a recently published report by the Washington Policy Center (WPC) .
Farms accounts for 13 percent of the state’s GDP and employ more people than Microsoft and Boeing combined. Some 160,000 Washington jobs associated with agriculture. Agriculture accounts for $51 billion in Washington yearly economic activity.
Over 200 food processors are supported by Washington farmers.
The apple is still rules in Washington. Two-thirds of the apples shipped in the U.S., originate from Washington state. One interesting fact coming out of the report is if the number of apples picked in Washington last year were placed side-by-side, they would circle the earth 29 times. Every apple is hand-picked.
While neighboring Idaho leads the nation in potato shipments, Washington also has significant potato loadings. Between the two states, they account for 44 percent of the nation’s potato shipments. When you order fries at a restaurant, you are likely to be served potatoes processed in the central part of Washington state.
The Washington Potato Commission reports that 99 percent of Washington potato farms are family businesses whose owners have deep roots in their communities.
Trucks move an estimated $42 million of freight on roadways in Washington state every hour of every day, yet many of them idle in traffic. The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) estimated traffic bottlenecks cost truckers $49.6 billion in 2014.
While the state has a prosperous agriculture sector, the Washington Policy Center believes farm families, similar to those in trucking, feel the pressure of harmful legislation and regulations.
In 2013, the agriculture community faced nearly a billion dollars tax increases from legislation introduced in Olympia. That would be on top of the estimated $230 million farmers and agriculture-related businesses pay in property taxes annually.
Finally, farmers will feel the cost impacts of the governor’s proposed greenhouse gas rules which hit fertilizer makers and food processing facilities hard.
The report’s bottom line is agriculture must be given equal priority with high-tech, software, aerospace and biomedical research when the state’s leaders set tax, regulatory and economic policies.
Columbia Basin potato shipments – grossing about $3800 to Chicago.
Yakima Valley apple shipments – grossing about $6000 to New York City.