A bumper crop of opportunity.
Washington’s 15 million acres of farmland produce 300 different crops, ranking second in the nation. The state’s diverse geography combines with ocean-fueled microclimates to create an endless variety of growing regions, from the moist hillsides and valleys on the west side of the state to the fertile, rolling plains of Eastern Washington.
Farms and food production facilities are strategically located near cold storage facilities, ports, rail lines and major transportation corridors. This helps ensure that fresh, frozen and manufactured foods can be transported efficiently to major markets throughout North, Central and South America, Asia and Europe. Several of the state’s large container ports are a day’s sail closer to major Asian ports than other West Coast port operations.
Combined with the state’s low-cost energy – some of the lowest in the nation – and superior crop and harvest yields, Washington is a natural choice for agricultural operations, food production, storage and manufacturing.
- 35,700 farms, 89% of which are classified as small farms with less than $250,000 in annual revenue.
- Agriculture and food manufacturing operations support 164,000 jobs in Washington.
- The industry generates more than $20.4 billion in revenue annually.
- Washington is the #1 producer of apples, blueberries, hops, pears, spearmint oil and sweet cherries.
- The state is the #2 producer of apricots, asparagus, grapes, potatoes and raspberries in the U.S.
- Washington is the second-largest producer of wine in the United States, supporting 1,000 wineries.
- Washington is also a leader in seafood production, second only to Alaska in shipments of fish and shellfish.
An in-depth look.
Washington’s rich volcanic soils, diverse growing climates and large-scale irrigation networks provide farmers and food manufacturers with optimal growing conditions year-round. The cool valleys of Western Washington are suitable for berries, flowers, poultry, nursery products and dairy cows. With its warmer, drier climate, Eastern Washington is ideal for dairy farms, cattle ranching, wheat, fruits, vegetables and wine grapes. Per acre yields for commodities such as apples, potatoes and dryland wheat as well per cow milk production provides ample evidence of Washington’s leadership in U.S. agriculture and food production.
To further increase yields, Washington farmers are turning to a new generation of mechanized, automated and robotic technologies to improve crop production and reduce the need for manual farming, including harvesting the state’s bumper crops of fruits and vegetables.
Artificial intelligence (AI), big data, drones and other technologies allow farmers to manage crops using real-time tools to improve decision-making, from knowing when and where to plant to using satellite and geospatial data to increase yields.
Drones are used to remotely monitor crops, manage water usage and land more efficiently and assess crop fertility, fertilization levels and pest control. In research labs and on farms, AI is being used to identify genetic traits that are ideal for specific soil conditions and challenging growing areas.
Apples – $1.95 billion
Milk – $1.5 billion
Potatoes – $934 million
Wheat – $792.5 million
Cattle – $698.7 million
Hops – $475.6 million
Hay – $468 million
Cherries – $393.5 million
Grapes – $308 million
Onions – $180.5 million
About one-third of Washington’s agricultural commodities are exported, 75% going to Asia markets. Food manufacturing is a $12 billion industry and is the state’s second-largest manufacturing industry.The state is equidistant from Europe and Asia, connected by 75 public ports, 139 airports and 3,666 miles of railways, ensuring that your crops and food and beverage products arrive at their destination quickly and in good order. Washington also has the largest port-side cold storage facility on the west coast. The state is one of the most trade-savvy states in the nation, ranking #5 in the U.S.
To promote the production and trade of value-added agriculture and food manufacturing products, the state offers an array of incentives to companies who wish to do business in and with Washington, including tax exemptions and deductions for manufacturers of fresh fruit and vegetable crops. The state also offers a tax system that rewards successful businesses, allowing them to retain more of their profits.
State universities and private enterprises work together to research new products, growing and production techniques, and sustainability. A good example of this collaboration is the Wine Science Center at Washington State University. One of the most technologically advanced research and education facilities in the world, the 40,000 square-foot facility includes research and teaching laboratories, classrooms and an operational winery to improve grape growing and winemaking processes.
A helping hand when you need one.
Companies engaged in the industry can count on the support of the state and the industry at large. Washington has a robust network of trade associations, including 21 agriculture commodity commissions (listed on the right), Northwest Food Processors Association, Northwest Horticultural Council, Pacific Seafood Processors Association, Pacific Northwest Vegetable Association and the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
- Alfalfa Seed Commission
- Apple Commission
- Asparagus Commission
- Beef Commission
- Beer Commission
- Blueberry Commission
- Cranberry Commission
- Dairy Products Commission
- Fruit Commission
- Grain Commission
- Hop Commission
- Mint Commission
- Oilseeds Commission
- Potato Commission
- Puget Sound Salmon Commission
- Pulse Crops Commission
- Red Raspberry Commission
- Seed Potato Commission
- Tree Fruit Research Commission
- Turfgrass Seed Commission
- Wine Commission
If a question crops up…
To help you maximize the potential of your agricultural and food manufacturing business strategies, we have a team of experts on hand to guide you in locating facilities in one of our 39 counties, working your way through permitting, securing a skilled workforce, training new and existing workers, entering into trade or expanding your exports to new markets, performing research and making introductions with local, regional and statewide businesses who may be interested in partnering with you.
If you are interested in learning more about value-added agriculture and food manufacturing opportunities in Washington State, contact us at 206.256.6100 or email our agriculture/food manufacturing business expert listed below.
Julia Terlinchamp, Director of Agriculture Innovation – (206) 507-5250
Harry Birak, Value-Added Agriculture Development Manager, Business Development Team – Phone: (206) 256-6121