Overall, the state of Washington’s agriculture sector remains strong. That was the assessment Washington’s Department of Agriculture director Derek Sandison made during his keynote address at Central Washington University’s 2017 Economic Outlook Conference. Presented by the College of Business, it pertained to Trends, Challenges, and Opportunities in Washington State’s Hay and Potato Industries.
Sandison breaks down current agriculture challenges
Specifically, Sandison listed apples, hops, and poultry as among the sectors that are flourishing, in part because of strong domestic markets. He pointed to dairy and wheat being down, due to increased global production and a strong U.S. dollars which, in some instances, means producers are not even meeting their cost of production.
In addition, an insufficient number of workers available to Washington agriculture is an ongoing problem. Sandison says the shortages continue despite what he termed relatively high wages paid for farm work.
He added that state agriculture producers are hoping the federal government will provide relief through immigration reform and the development of programs that could ease entry of migrant workers into the U.S.