We released our first report for 2023, Farming for the Future: Capitalizing on Washington State’s Agriculture and Seafood Export Opportunities. It looks at:
- What is the impact of agriculture and seafood exports on Washington state’s economy
- How to improve exports with innovation
- What negatively impacts exports
- What policy changes can help Washington State’s agriculture export sector
- And more
Download the Full Report (PDF)
Food grown by Washington state farmers is enjoyed by customers all around the world. By capitalizing on unique geographic, market, and infrastructure conditions in the state, Washington’s agriculture sector has emerged as a cornerstone of the state’s trade-driven economy – employing over 164,000 people and exporting tens of billions of dollars of products every year.
employing over 164,000 people and exporting tens of billions of dollars of products every year
Thanks to the country’s largest public port system and a favorable climate, Washington-grown or harvested products – including aquaculture products – occupy a prominent position in the global marketplace. Notably, Washington state is the leading U.S. producer of hops, apples, and blueberries and is second only to Alaska among U.S. states exporting seafood products.
Expansive and efficient trade infrastructure also makes Washington state a crucial trade link for farmers as far east as Minnesota. Fast, reliable rail links and roads connect farmers throughout much of the Upper Midwest with Washington’s ports. As a result, ports in the state, in addition to handling Washington-grown goods, move a large share of all U.S. agriculture exports to markets around the world. In fact, ports along the Columbia and Snake Rivers are the point of origin for more than half of all U.S. wheat exports.
ports along the Columbia and Snake Rivers are the point of origin for more than half of all U.S. wheat exports
However, after decades of steady export growth, Washington’s agriculture sector faces significant challenges. Trade tensions and tariffs between the U.S. and major trading partners, growing “behind the border” trade barriers in export markets, and pandemic-driven logistical challenges have taken a toll on Washington farmers. Meaningful policy and regulatory measures are needed to alleviate the adverse effects of these headwinds on the state’s agriculture sector.
By capitalizing on new opportunities – such as new federal infrastructure investment– and advocating for meaningful policy support at the federal and state level, the state’s agriculture export sector can work to regain lost ground and accelerate agriculture export growth.