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Washington State Agriculture

June 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 208

Washington State is one of the most productive growing regions in the world and enables farmers to produce some 300 crops each year. At the heart of this state are rich soils, diverse yet mild climates, and plenty of rain makes Washington an ideal for agriculture. For these reasons Washington is known as the Evergreen State. The state's deep-water ports and its proximity to important Asian markets also provide natural advantages for agricultural trade.

Washington's 39,500 farms power a diverse agricultural economy led by the state's apple industry claiming 60 percent of the total U.S. apple production. In addition to the top 10 commodities (Apples, Milk, Wheat, Potatoes, Cattle, Hay, Cherries, Nursery/Greenhouses, Grapes, Pears) the Evergreen State is a major producer of stone fruits, farm forest products, fish, shellfish, onions and mint oils.

Although Washington ranks 14th among the states in total agricultural, it provides a broad range of agricultural products not provided by other states. About 70% of Washington's total agricultural receipts are in crops; about 30% are in livestock products.

The State of Washington generates more apple revenues than any other state. Washington is the #1 apple-producing state. About 20% of the state's total agricultural receipts are generated by apples. Washington produces about 64% of the nation's apples. Wheat (fifth among the states) and potatoes (second among the states) are other major crops grown in Washington. Greenhouse and nursery products account for about 7% of Washington's total agricultural receipts. Hay, behind wheat, is the second most valuable field crop grown in the state. Other important crops grown in Washington are hops (first among the states), sweet corn, mint (first among the states), corn for grain, barley and Kentucky bluegrass (first among the states).

Important vegetables for the state are onions, asparagus (first among the states), carrots, dry peas and lentils. Beyond apples, cherries, grapes, pears, and raspberries are the leading fruits grown in Washington.

Dairy products, particularly milk, comprise Washington's most valuable group of livestock products and accounts for about 15% of the state's total agricultural receipts. Beef cattle and calves generate about 9% of the state's agricultural revenue. Aquaculture, chicken eggs, and broilers (young chickens) are other major livestock products thriving in Washington.

The organic food industry has been growing at a rate of 20-30% per year for the past 10 years in the U.S., with a commensurate increase in land farmed under certified organic management, and an increased need for research on organic farming practices and systems. In Washington State, organic acreage has increased 8-fold since 1993 and the organic food industry is valued at over $200 million per year. The organic sector supports thousands of businesses of all sizes, with extensive positive repercussions for rural communities. Organic systems generally lead to improved environmental performance and farm worker safety thus lessening the need for the public sector to bear these costs. Organically approved products, often developed by small businesses, need testing for efficacy and registration. Conventional growers also benefit from the development of organic practices and products, which they are increasingly adopting to deal with pesticide resistance and regulatory constraints and because adoption of these methods can lead to reduced costs, improved biological performance, and enhanced environmental protection. Producing foods organically creates thousands more jobs than if that food were produced using conventional agricultural methods. Eastern Washington accounts for most of our state's organic production, with 64% of the certified farms and 75% of the land area. Western Washington is home to 36% of our state's certified organic farms and 25% of the land area.

Growing fruits and vegetables isn't just for the countryside anymore. A thriving local food economy benefits everyone involved. It decreases the miles traveled from field to plate, in turn decreasing the amount of fossil fuels needed for transportation. Knowing where our food comes from helps assure us that what we're getting is fresh and healthy.

Marketing has improved over the years with programs that encourage support of local agriculture, even at large grocery stores and local restaurants. Farmers' markets have proliferated in recent years, along with farms that feature their own retail outlets and family events like corn mazes, pumpkin patches and hay rides. For these and many other reasons Washington State is just a great place to live.

If you're looking for small but important steps to take against global warming, start in your own kitchen. Food grown at a nearby farm is a lot more planet-friendly than something that was transported halfway across the country - or the world. Chances are it'll taste a whole lot better, too. Real food for everyone is the way of Washington State. invites you to visit our site and sign up for a FREE LISTING, get listed and get found.

Source: EzineArticles
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Washington State Agriculture

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