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Washington State's Agriculture equals 13% of the state's economy

Posted 8/29/2013 4:14pm by Monique Russ.

As members of the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce we get weekly newsletters, and in this week's newsletter there was some great information I thought was worth passing on. The most interesting information to me was learning that there are more farms in Snohomish County than Skagit County who, in my opinion, has done a fantastic job of advertising their agriculutral importance in our state.

Our farm is located in Snohomish County in the gorgeous Skykomish River Valley, aka Sky Valley. Snohomish County ranks 6th in the state with over 1600 working farms and Skagit only has just over 1200. This is surprising to me, but then again I've always thought Snohomish County has done a poor job of supporting farms and the agricultural community as a whole. Their farmer market permit fees are triple what they are in King County, the number of actual farmer markets is extremely low when compared to the overall size of the county and the number of residents, the grant and funding programs are pitiful, and they don't advertise our rich and diverse agricultural history or significance. If you're a farm in Snohomish County it's difficult to get your farm advertised outside of the Puget Sound Farm Guide which was created and sponsored by King County.

The Annual Sky Valley Farm Festival is held the 2nd Saturday in October in Sultan and it's sponsored and organized by the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce. Our farm is one of four farms in the Sky Valley that participates in this fun and educational event. Mark it on your calendars...and check back for more information which will be posted on our blog and on our Facebook page in the upcoming weeks. Now, on to our State's role in agriculture and its contributions to our State's economy...

The Importance of Agriculture in Washington- by Rep. Dan Kristiansen

It is often said that from apples to airplanes, our state has a diverse economy. With our rich farmland and ties to the aerospace industry, perhaps no region of the state exemplifies this diversity more than ours. As Dreamliner orders and other Boeing endeavors grab the headlines, what often goes under the radar is agriculture. For example, did you know there are more than 1,600 farms in Snohomish County and 1,200 farms in Skagit County? In these two counties, the combined market value of crops and livestock is $382 million, according to a 2007 Census of Agriculture by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. To see information on all counties, click here.

When it comes to agriculture, our state has distinct advantages. Our talented farmers, rich soils, various climates and irrigation operations result in the production of 300 different commodities. We also have deep-water ports that enable our state to export these commodities all over the world – including lucrative Asian markets. In fact, more than $15 billion in food and agricultural products were exported through Washington ports in 2011 – the third largest total in the nation. It probably comes as no surprise that Washington is the nation’s top producer of apples, but did you know we are also number one in sweet cherries, pears, red raspberries and hops? You can find a list of our state’s top 10 commodities here. You can learn more about our state’s national rankings in agriculture here.

The $46 billion food and agriculture industry also provides jobs. It employs approximately 160,000 people statewide and contributes 13 percent to our state’s economy. The food processing industry alone employs more than 2,700 people in Snohomish and Skagit counties and generates more than $800 million in gross sales each year. To see similar data for all counties, click here.

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