The Future of Farming

The Future of Farming

The Future of Farming. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Line On Agriculture.


What will it take to keep agriculture alive into the future? The Washington State Department of Agriculture spent a year talking to farmers and ranchers to find out what it will take to keep farming vibrant and prosperous for generations to come. According to Acting Ag Director Bob Gore they conducted a SWOT analysis of ag.


GORE: That is to identify the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing agriculture today and out into the next 20-25 years. And to develop a strategic plan based on that SWOT analysis. We interpreted that as a mandate to obtain the views from producers, first hand experiences. Producers of all sizes, types, all different commodities.


They included folks in the academic world along with food processors and any other ag related businesses. Gore said it had been some time since the last report.


GORE: We last did this similar study in 1989 and we called it Ag 2000 and that was basically a top down view of Washington agriculture. In other words what the Department thought through contracted research - what a strategic plan for agriculture might look like over that 20 year period. This was different in that we cast a wide net in going with first hand producer experiences


Gore says they have identified 5 basic areas for scrutiny.


GORE: The number one recommendation was to make ag a priority. That farming needs to be given the priority it merits by the citizens and lawmakers of Washington, that farmers really are by definition conservationists and provide the food for Washington citizens and many other people around the world; and a major contributor to the states economy.


Regulations were part of the list of areas needing to be looked at since farmers can quickly feel the stranglehold of bureaucracy. Protecting our resources, strengthening support services and harnessing emerging opportunities rounded out the list. The report is available for viewing on the WSDA website and Gore finished by making an observation.


GORE: Washington is at risk of losing its historical agricultural competitive advantages. Things like cheap and plentiful labor, land, energy, water and a favorable regulatory environment are thing that need to be looked at and addressed into the future if we are going to keep farming and agriculture vital and vibrant in Washington State.


That’s today’s Line On Agriculture. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.


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