Farmers feed you. We don’t often consider that while eating dinner each night, but farming is one of the most important industries on Earth.
The agriculture industry as a whole has a huge impact. In Spokane County alone, it generates $587 million in annual economic impact and 1,576 jobs.
Let’s run down a list of facts you may or may not know about the ag industry.
- Food processing is a $13 billion industry in Washington and employs 40,000 people.
- Washington is the leading U.S. producer of apple juice.
- Washington is the second-largest wine producer in the U.S. with nearly 700 licensed wineries.
- The food and agriculture industry makes up 11 percent of the state’s economy.
- Nearly $11 billion in food and agricultural products were exported through Washington ports in 2009, the third largest total in the nation.
- Yakima County has 3,540 farms, the most in the state. Spokane County is second with 2,502 farms.
- The top commodity in 2009 (the most recent data available) was apples (that’s not always the case from year to year).
- Whitman County produces more wheat than any other county in the nation. It ranks second nationally in barley production.
- Only California produces more commodities than Washington.
As you can see, the ag industry is a big mover and shaker of our economy. Our Agri-Business Council does a nice job of bringing the industry together each month. The Agri-Business Council of Greater Spokane Incorporated hosts the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum each year that brings in tons of visitors and money to our economy.
So the next time you eat dinner, you’ll be glad to know there are farmers and other ag-industry folks working hard to keep you fed.
Data Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture and Washington State Department of Agriculture