With 39,000 farms operating on more than 15 million acres, Washington is a major agricultural state. The Evergreen State produces some 300 commercial crops and livestock products valued at $7.9 billion to Washington farmers and ranchers.
Washington’s location in the northwest corner of the U.S. and its deep-water ports present excellent trade opportunities. Washington is the third largest agricultural exporter in the nation, with $8 billion in agriculture exports in 2011. About one-third of Washington’s agricultural commodities are exported with about 75 percent of the commodities going to Asia. Food processing is a $12 billion industry and is the state’s second largest manufacturing industry.
Washington ranks first in the U.S. for production of 11 commodities, including apples, sweet cherries, pears, hops and red raspberries. Growers’ production ranks second in the U.S. for an additional eight commodities, including potatoes, grapes and onions. Washington is also the second-largest producer of wine in the U.S. The state’s diverse agricultural economy includes aquaculture, farm forest products, cranberries, spearmint and peppermint oil and mink.
Washington’s combination of rich soils, diverse climates and large-scale irrigation make it one of the most productive growing regions in the world. The cool, moist valleys of Western Washington are ideal for raising milk cows, berries, nursery products, flowers and poultry. Eastern Washington, known for its desert-like climate, has both irrigated and dry land farms. Agricultural highlights include cattle ranching, dairy farms, wheat, apples, pears, cherries and other tree fruits, as well as varieties of grapes and vegetables.
The productivity of Washington’s agriculture is demonstrated by farmers’ record or near-record yields per acre in the U.S. for commodities ranging from apples, potatoes, and dry land wheat to pounds of milk per cow.
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