Agriculture In Review
While the drought in the midwest will certainly take the number one spot on the nation’s top agriculture news list for 2012, here in Washington state it was an overall good year for agriculture. Commodities such as cherries, apples, milk, hay, potatoes, and wheat continued to have record or near record high production value. Though most crops did fairly well across the board, labor shortage was still an issue for a lot of producers, putting immigration issues front and center for Washington state once again.
The summer of 2012 will long be remembered for devastating wildfires across much of central Washington. The cost for battling the four largest of these fires was estimated at $67.5 million. Mike Louisell with the Washington State Department of Agriculture says that even with the ups and downs agriculture remains a bright spot for Washington state economy.
LOUISELL: I think we have benefited from a higher recognition that the value of agriculture and food industries in our state basically is the cornerstone of Washington state’s economy. We have agriculture all across the state - benefiting small scale farmers in some counties and larger scale farm operations in other areas.
Louisell says that while he can’t predict what the total agriculture statistics will be for 2012, based on 2011 figures the WSDA can estimate the total value of agriculture and food production in Washington state.
LOUISELL: To put the value of agriculture into perspective, the state receives some $46 billion dollars contributed by the food and agriculture industry, about 13 percent of the state’s economy.
Other Washington commodities that have significant value on the national market are hops, mint, lentils, and livestock,
I’m Lacy Gray and that’s Washington Ag Today on the Ag Information Network.