You might not like the higher prices in the grocery store, but they meant higher values for Washington crops in 2007. The overall value of...
YAKIMA, Wash. — You might not like the higher prices in the grocery store, but they meant higher values for Washington crops in 2007.
The overall value of agricultural production last year increased 23 percent to a record $8.51 billion, up from a revised $6.9 billion in 2006, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. Four of the top five crops — apples, milk, wheat and potatoes — experienced record gains in 2007, as did a number of other foods.
Agriculture continues to be the cornerstone of Washington’s economy, particularly when compared with recent downturns in other economic sectors, said Bob Gore, acting director of the state Department of Agriculture.
“On the whole, our 33,000 farmers and ranchers had excellent gains, but they continue to face escalating costs to grow their crops and raise their livestock,” Gore said in a statement.
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Those costs include fertilizer, which has increased upward of 100 percent, as well as diesel and transportation, said Mollie Hammar, director of public relations for the Washington Farm Bureau.
“We’re hearing instances where farmers have to ration how often they go out and run their combine. It reaches a point where it’s not cost effective to harvest if they have to use their diesel,” she said. “Farmers definitely aren’t benefiting from high prices while consumers pay top dollar at the grocery store.”
But the higher prices did boost overall crop values.
Apples again topped the list at $1.75 billion, compared with the previous high of $1.41 billion in 2006. Washington is the nation’s top apple producer, growing about half the U.S. crop.
Milk, the second crop on the list, for the first time topped $1 billion after declining nearly 18 percent a year before. Milk production was valued at $1.06 billion in 2007, up from $688 million in 2006.
Rounding out the top five crops were: wheat at $975 million, surpassing the previous record of $756 million set in 1996; potatoes at $685 million, ahead of the previous high of $562 million in 2006; and cattle and calves at $581 million.
Other crops breaking records in 2007 included hay, grapes, pears, blueberries and hops.