Agriculture & Natural Resources

Turning back the clock

October 28, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Turning back the clock

It’s pretty hard to come up with good things to say about the Great Depression.  But here’s one:  If it hadn’t been for the Great Depression, we wouldn’t have upwards of 175,000 priceless photographs showing what life in America was like during the Great Depression and World War II. Some of these, commissioned by the Farm Security Administration and later by the Office of War Information, are iconic.  Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother.”  Walker Evans’ “Sharecropping Family.” Countless iterations of the … Continue reading

Cranberry harvest is in full swing

October 27, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Cranberry harvest is in full swing

Behold, the cranberry. A cranberry dish is a big part of Thanksgiving spreads across the nation, and cranberry juice has come into its own in recent decades. The yearly Cranberry Harvest Festival just finished delighting residents and weekend visitors in the Grays Harbor County community of Grayland. Washington’s all-machine cranberry harvest started a few weeks back and it’ll go full-swing into mid-November. This year’s growing season has been very good. The industry is looking at a particularly top-notch harvest for Washington’s … Continue reading

Oct.1 is Taste Washington Day

September 26, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Oct.1 is Taste Washington Day

“Taste Washington Day” will kick off Farm to School Month on October 1, and many kids in our state will get the chance to be Washivores as they enjoy school lunches made of fresh, locally grown and raised ingredients. Created by the Legislature in 2008, the Farm-to-School Program is managed by the WA State Department of Agriculture, which in 2010 partnered with the Washington School Nutrition Association to sponsor the first Taste Washington Day. This will be the fourth year … Continue reading

It’s no 1997, but a great 2014 hop harvest is on tap

September 18, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

It’s no 1997, but a great 2014 hop harvest is on tap

You’ll find almost as many hop yards in Yakima’s central Washington agrarian latitude as you’d see anywhere else in the world. And that’s saying something. Why, even the No. 1 hopsters in Germany must surely feel our Yankee challenge to their own Teutonic vines. Seventy-five percent of America’s hops are produced by Washington farmers. Hop growers in the Evergreen State are expected to harvest almost 30,000 acres this year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). OK, so that’s … Continue reading

Hey! Banner year forecast for hay harvest

September 11, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Hey! Banner year forecast for hay harvest

Hay isn’t just a city in New South Wales, Australia, you know. “Hay is grass, legumes or other herbaceous plants that have been cut, dried, and stored for use as animal fodder,” explains Wikipedia. It’s especially important in the diet of “grazing livestock such as cattle, horses, goats, and sheep.” The hay yield for farmers in our Evergreen State — particularly the harvest totals for alfalfa hay — should be first-rate this year, says no less an authority than the … Continue reading

Oil throwing Washington agriculture off the tracks

August 18, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Oil throwing Washington agriculture off the tracks

House Democrats spent a significant amount of time last session analyzing the safety risks posed by oil train traffic and developing policy solutions to address the issue. While the problems remain very real, a new issue has come up regarding oil-by-rail: its effect on agriculture. Cold Train Express, one of the major movers of Washington state agricultural products based out of the Port of Quincy, has announced that they will no longer be shipping fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs to … Continue reading

Jam-packed trees awaiting held-up workers

August 7, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Jam-packed trees awaiting held-up workers

People were talking about it in April, but with a huge apple crop almost ready for harvest, a farm labor shortage is turning into more than a mere concern for many Washington farmers. Harvest of Washington apples begins in mid-August and generally ends in early November. The federal H-2A program allows farmers to request visas for workers from other countries and many of the H-2A guestworkers needed for the job are already in Washington where they’ve been harvesting cherries and … Continue reading

Fairs enthrall crowds, enliven economy

August 4, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Fairs enthrall crowds, enliven economy

More than most other states, Washington boldly affirms a long-standing love affair with fairs. And yes, fans, Fair Season 2014 is fully underway. Community, regional and statewide hoopla small, medium and large is the bill of fare in most every one of our 39 counties. The North Central Washington Junior Livestock Show in Moses Lake got the ball rolling in March, and the Southeast Spokane County Community Fair in Rockford will carve an exclamation point on the schedule in September. … Continue reading

Soybeans challenge corn in nat’l plantings standings

July 16, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Soybeans challenge corn in nat’l plantings standings

Soybeans are making a run at corn — on the national level, anyway — for the total number of acres planted. American farmers in the 2014 planting season rang up record numbers when they increasingly put their money on soybeans instead of corn, investing millions of acres for the former over the latter. Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture recently noted that 84.8 million acres of soybeans were planted, which is almost 11 percent more than last year’s sowing. … Continue reading

Rumor has it Washington’s apple crop will break 2012 record

July 11, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Rumor has it Washington’s apple crop will break 2012 record

We set a record with 128.8 million boxes in 2012 and early estimates are pointing at a fresh apple harvest of 145 million 40-pound boxes this fall. But the total crop, that is, once you add processed apples, could be in the neighborhood of 170 million boxes. This huge increase is likely so long as Washington continues seeing good weather and there are no labor shortages. Frost or an early freeze would reduce the harvest period, which would demand more … Continue reading

Could it be a banner year for Washington’s sweetest crop?

June 13, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

If recent media reports are any indication, Washington’s cherry growers might be in for one heck of a year. Today, the U.S. cherry industry produces more than 650 million pounds of tart and sweet cherries each year. Much of the cherry production is concentrated in Michigan and the Pacific Northwest. Michigan grows about 75% of the tart cherry crop. Oregon and Washington harvest about 60% of the sweet cherry crop. Washington is the largest sweet cherry producer in the United … Continue reading

Washington may be facing a farm labor shortage, again

April 24, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Washington may be facing a farm labor shortage, again

Back in November we reported that our state’s ag industry is booming. For instance, our apple production was valued at $1.54 billion in 2010 and in 2012 it ballooned to $2.25 billion. Granted, the 2012 applepalooza was the result of favorable weather conditions, and smaller than normal crops from the competition. But who’s to say this combination won’t happen again? And, if it does, will Washington farmers have enough hands picking the fruit? Last month state economists reported a 5.2 … Continue reading

Blue state? Maybe — but we’re making lots of red wine!

March 7, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Blue state? Maybe — but we’re making lots of red wine!

2013 was a year of firsts for the Washington state wine industry: It was the first year that wine-grape production from the state’s vineyards exceeded 200,000 tons. The total of 210,000 tons was up 12 percent from 2012. It was the first year that cabernet sauvignon emerged as the No. 1 grape variety in terms of tons harvested (or at least, the first in the last five years, and likely well before that). Cabernet sauvignon is a red-wine grape, historically … Continue reading

Washington is selling lots of stuff everywhere!

February 20, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Washington is selling lots of stuff everywhere!

Two years ago today we reported that Washington set a record in 2011 by exporting $64.4 billion worth of goods; a 21 percent increase over 2010. The Department of Commerce just released the figures for last year and the news, while not surprising, is certainly something to write home about, or at least include here in our House Democratic blog: We set another record! In 2013, our state sold $81.9 billion in products and services to international customers. This $17.5 … Continue reading

Become a well-informed Washivore in 2014

January 7, 2014 - Washington House Democrats

Become a well-informed Washivore in 2014

Washivores are those who eat Washington food, so if you live in the Evergreen state, chances are you’re already one. Why?  Because Washington grows over 300 different kinds of fruits, vegetables and seeds! Surely you know we’re the top apple grower in the United States, but did you know Washington also leads the nation in the production of mint oil? Or that Washington grows more sweet cherries than any other state? For more eye-opening facts, cool recipes, useful resources and … Continue reading

Canola rising: Acres planted, product value soar

December 4, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Canola rising: Acres planted, product value soar

News item: Canola cracks top 40. The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reports that canola moved up one spot — from 40 in 2011 to 39 in 2012 — on the list of Washington’s Top 40 Agricultural Commodities. That’s right,  you awesome conventional growers — what with your vast, traditional crops of apples, hops, potatoes, wheat, and other old-school harvests. Don’t look now, but canola is coming into its own as one of our state’s fastest-”growing” agrarian enterprises. For those … Continue reading

Our unstoppable Ag industry

November 8, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Our unstoppable Ag industry

Washington’s apple industry was valued at $1.54 billion in 2010. That’s pretty impressive, but even more so is its almost 50 percent growth in just two years, to a whopping $2.25 billion — making it the first commodity in the state to pass the $2 billion mark. Other crops in the 2012 top five were wheat, worth $1.18 billion; milk, worth $1.16 billion; potatoes, worth $700 million; and hay, worth $679 million. But there were also significant gains for cattle … Continue reading

Puyallup Fair no more?

July 11, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Puyallup Fair no more?

Planning on  Doing The Puyallup this year? Well, you can’t… not exactly, since it has a new name. While Doing The Washington State doesn’t have the same ring to it and could take some getting used to, the fair itself will remain the place that brings people together, generation after generation. Only bigger and better. This year, from September 6th to the 22nd, along with pumpkin carving, animal exhibits, and rides, you can expect to see East Side agriculture represented … Continue reading

Take a hike!

May 29, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

Take a hike!

Washington’s unmatched natural beauty provides for numerous outdoor activities: from bird watching to full-on camping, there’s an adventure out there for everyone. To keep our many trails in good shape for our hikes, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is inviting folks to celebrate National Trails Day this coming Saturday, June 1, by volunteering to help build new trails and do general maintenance on existing ones. Created by the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day is held the first Saturday … Continue reading

One fish, two fish, red fish, who knows fish?

May 21, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

One fish, two fish, red fish, who knows fish?

Is that Albacore in your sashimi bowl? Or could it be Escolar? If you think you are eating salmon you could be – or not. According to a recent study published by Oceana on average 33% of all fish in the US is mislabeled. But if you live in Pennsylvania that number could be as high as 56%. See how your state stacks up here. In an age when 90% of the fish Americans consume is imported and less that … Continue reading

Skagit Valley Tulip Ambassadors Visit Olympia

April 12, 2013 - frizzelld

Skagit Valley Tulip Ambassadors Visit Olympia

The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is known world-wide as a showcase for millions of Skagit Valley tulips and the rich agricultural heritage created by generation after generation of Skagit Valley farmers.  This year I and my 40th-district seatmate, Rep. Jeff Morris, had the honor of hosting a visit to the state Capitol by the 2013 Skagit Valley Tulip Ambassadors, Jennifer Ramirez and Carlos Roques.  The Festival continues throughout the month of April, and I invite everyone to come enjoy the … Continue reading

Rep. Brian Blake on Comcast Newsmakers

March 21, 2013 - Rep. Brian Blake

Rep. Brian Blake on Comcast Newsmakers

Rep. Brian Blake talks about his legislation on seafood labeling, HB 1200, in this Comcast Newsmakers interview:

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – March 18, 2013

March 18, 2013 - Rep. Brian Blake

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – March 18, 2013

Dear neighbors, The cutoff deadline has officially passed, so bills that didn’t make it out of its house of origin last week are likely dead, unless they are necessary to implement the budget.  The House will now turn its attention to legislation our Senate colleagues have passed to us. The next couple of weeks will be busy with public hearings.  Over in the Senate, they’ll be doing the same thing, holding hearings on bills we have passed to them.  Remember, … Continue reading

House advances environmental, natural resource legislation

March 7, 2013 - Washington House Democrats

House advances environmental, natural resource legislation

Protecting our state’s quality of life is the overarching theme of several environmental and natural resource-related measures championed by House Democrats. The House has advanced a package of bills protecting people and the environment from toxic chemicals and pollution, and promoting responsible stewardship of resources. “In order to have a strong economy that supports good jobs, we have to strive for a healthy and sustainable quality of life in our state,” said Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D – Des Moines), who … Continue reading

Rep. Blake’s Legislative Update – February 11, 2013

February 11, 2013 - Rep. Brian Blake

Rep. Blake’s Legislative Update – February 11, 2013

Dear Neighbor, We are already one month into the 2013 legislative session, so there are 11 more weeks to go.  The session follows a cut-off calendar, which determines the deadlines for public hearings and executive action on bills, as well as floor action in both the House and Senate. We are coming up on our first cut-off, February 22, which is the last day a policy bill can be considered in committee in its house of origin.  Fiscal bills get … Continue reading

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update for February 5, 2013

February 5, 2013 - nietol

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update for February 5, 2013

Dear Neighbor, We’re already in Week Four of the 2013 session, and it has been packed with activity.  One way for you to keep up with what’s going on in the House is to check the House Hot Sheet, which is updated weekly.  It lists the time and location of public hearings in the House on bills of interest. We get thousands of visitors on the campus each week.  If you’re planning a trip to the Capitol, here is some … Continue reading

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – January 29, 2013

January 29, 2013 - nietol

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – January 29, 2013

Dear neighbors, The second week of the 2013 legislative session began on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, and legislators honored the slain civil rights leader with a resolution on the House floor.  While his birthday is celebrated each year as a federal holiday, Dr. King’s message of equality for all is relevant every day of the year.  As he once famously said, “No one is free, until everyone is free.” Watch my video update!       Bills are going … Continue reading

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – January 22, 2013

January 22, 2013 - nietol

Rep. Brian Blake’s Legislative Update – January 22, 2013

Dear neighbors, On Monday, January 14, the 2013 legislative session kicked off in Olympia with opening day ceremonies and the swearing-in of all members of the House of Representatives. It was honor to stand with my colleagues and take the oath of office together as a group. While we all represent different parts of the state, we are united in our commitment to ensuring Washington emerges from the Great Recession leading the way in job creation, educational opportunity for all, … Continue reading

Blake introduces seafood labeling legislation

January 21, 2013 - nietol

Blake introduces seafood labeling legislation

A measure (HB 1200) aimed at protecting consumers by ensuring informed decisions are made about the seafood they buy and put on their tables is making its way through the legislative process. “The problem right now is that you really don’t know if the fish  you bought for your family dinner is, in fact, what you paid for,  because our existing labeling and branding requirements for seafood are dated and confusing,” said state Rep. Brian Blake about his measure. “The … Continue reading

Van De Wege, local Audubon Society agree on Dungeness Spit proposal

January 16, 2013 - Rep. Kevin Van De Wege

Van De Wege, local Audubon Society agree on Dungeness Spit proposal

State Rep. Kevin Van De Wege  (D-Sequim) and representatives of the Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society (OPAS) in Sequim have jointly agreed to a proposal that would continue to permit jogging within the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge (DNWR), and protect horseback riding within the Refuge for future generations – all while still providing protection for the area’s unique wildlife and habitat. On January 7, Van De Wege met with representatives from OPAS and clarified his position on the future uses and … Continue reading

Pettigrew receives committee assignments, retains leadership position

December 11, 2012 - toyrab

Pettigrew receives committee assignments, retains leadership position

The House Democratic Caucus has approved the committee structure for the upcoming legislative session. State Representative Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle) has once again been appointed to several key committees. Rep. Pettigrew will serve on the Agriculture and Natural Resources, Public Safety, Rules, and Appropriations Committees. In addition to his appointment to the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Pettigrew will serve on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Education. That subcommittee will be tasked with making funding recommendations for early learning, K-12, and higher education following … Continue reading

Rep. Lytton elected vice chair of House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee

December 11, 2012 - frizzelld

Rep. Kristine Lytton (D-Anacortes) has been elected by her colleagues to serve as vice chair of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee during the upcoming 105-day legislative session, which begins Jan. 14. The official charge of the Agriculture & Natural Resources panel is to consider and shape legislation “relating to agricultural production, marketing, and sales; animal and plant disease control; fisheries and wildlife; forest practices and forest fire protection; water; and mining.”  The committee also deals with bills relating … Continue reading

Blake to continue as chair of Agriculture in 2013

December 10, 2012 - nietol

Aberdeen Democratic Representative Brian Blake will remain in his role as chair of the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Committee in the 2013 Legislative Session. Blake’s keen understanding of the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy has been fundamental in this position, which he has held for 5 years. “I believe a lot of the issues that come through Ag and Natural Resources deeply affect my local constituents,” Blake said. “Right now the most pressing concerns in these areas … Continue reading

Grown in Washington Tour

November 10, 2011 - mcvicara

Farm Bureau names Blake Legislator of the Year

October 12, 2011 - nietol

OLYMPIA – Aberdeen Democratic Representative Brian Blake has been named 2011 Legislator of the Year by the Washington Farm Bureau Board of Directors.   In his role as chair of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, Blake has a keen understanding of the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy and was commended by the Farm Bureau for championing funding of the Department of Agriculture and the Conservation Commissions-services critical to the continued success of Washington’s agricultural businesses.   … Continue reading

MEDIA ADVISORY: House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee to hold work session in Okanogan

September 22, 2011 - nietol

The Washington State House of Representatives will host an Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee work session Thursday, Sept. 29, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Okanogan County Courthouse in Okanogan.   The work session will include county officials from around the region and several legislators who serve on the committee, as well as lawmakers from the surrounding area. The meeting will be run by committee Chairman Brian Blake. The details of the meeting are as follows: What: House … Continue reading