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Ag Exports, Flood Clean Up, Bioproducts Center Director

Posted by | March 12, 2008

Washington Ag Exports Soar in 2007

Washington’s agriculture exporters had a banner year in 2007. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington exports topped $9.3 billion last year, a 38 percent increase from 2006.

The dramatic increase in exports is a result of the strong yields by Washington growers, high prices producers are getting for their commodities, the low dollar which make our products more attractive to international buyers, weather events in other parts of the world that have driven down production of similar commodities, and trade missions opening up new markets.

Washington state is the third largest exporter of U.S. food and agriculture products. Exports are critical to Washington’s farmers and ranchers because about one-third of Washington-grown products are shipped overseas.

“Export sales are increasingly important to the bottom line of Washington’s farmers and ranchers,” said Valoria Loveland, director of the Washington State Department of Agriculture. “No one in the world can compete against Washington growers on the quality of the product. We will continue to focus on reducing foreign barriers to our farm products and hosting foreign buyers looking for the best available products here in Washington.”

For more information about the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s International Marketing Program, please visit:

Washington ag exports topped $9.3 billion in 2007.

Washington ag exports topped $9.3 billion in 2007.

WSU Students Spend Spring Break Helping Flooded Farmers

Mucking the mud out of a previously flooded dairy barn isn’t how one would expect most college students to want to spend their spring break.

But 13 WSU students from the Pullman campus chose to devote part or all of their break helping clean up after the devastating floods that soaked southwestern Washington in December. The group drove a van across the state on Saturday to work in the southwest Lewis County communities of Pe Ell and Boistfort.

Student volunteer Morgan Leap said the experience has given her a more realistic perspective on the impacts of the disaster.

“You see stuff like this on the news and you see pictures of how people have lost their homes and you know in your head, but seeing it you feel it in your heart more,” she said. “You’re talking to families and hearing people’s stories. Actually seeing it makes it real.”

In addition to shoveling mud and debris out of barns, the students cleaned flood debris from fences, shoveled flood-deposited rocks and gravel out of fields so they can be plowed, and dug out irrigation pipes buried under two feet of mud.

Generally, the student volunteers were overwhelmed by the extent of damage they found and the years of cleanup facing local residents. Still, they felt their few days of work were a valuable contribution.

“I am very satisfied thinking about how I’m giving help to other people, so it’s very meaningful to me,” said Yoo Tak Han, a foreign studies student from Korea. “I can give something, some small thing, that will make some people happy, so I think it’s a good thing.”

Cleared from two feet of mud, student volunteers moved irrigation pipe and cleaned flood debris out of a pasture. Photos: Denny Fleenor.Student volunteers moving irrigation pipe they had dug out of

Cleared from two feet of mud, student volunteers moved irrigation pipe and cleaned flood debris out of a pasture. Photos: Denny Fleenor.

Danish Biologist To Lead Bioeconomy Effort

An internationally recognized microbiologist will join Washington State University as the director of the Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy and as the Battelle Distinguished Professor, based at WSU Tri-Cities.

Birgitte Ahring, currently a professor at The Technical University of Denmark, will lead WSU’s interdisciplinary center that will focus research and academic programming on the use and conversion of biomass into bioproducts and biofuels.

“This is another example of Washington leading the way on clean energy and scientific research,” said the state’s governor, Chris Gregoire. “Dr. Ahring’s scientific expertise will help our state develop bioproduct technologies that will drive innovation globally and job growth locally.”

Dr. Ahring will lead research conducted throughout the WSU system, but much of it will happen inside the Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory, a 57,000-square-foot, $24.8 million facility opening this spring at WSU Tri-Cities. BSEL is a partnership with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and will include 10 jointly appointed scientists who will conduct cutting-edge research and development in bioenergy. PNNL is operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Learn more about WSU’s Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory:

International Research Star Birgitte Ahring Joins WSU as Director of Bioproducts Center in Tri-Cities

International research star Birgitte Ahring joins WSU as director of Bioproducts Center in Tri-Cities.