Future of Farming Project Aims to Keep Agriculture Profitable
What can our state’s policy leaders do to help Washington’s farming families stay profitable over the next 20 years? To help sort out the challenges and the opportunities, farmers, ranchers and others in the industry are encouraged to help develop a strategic plan through the Future of Farming project.
As always, the challenges for the agriculture community are daunting: enormous start-up costs, weather and price risks, energy and other input costs and many more.
At the same time, opportunities for profitable farming abound in the state: a diverse climate that supports more than 300 crops, well-developed food processing infrastructure, world-class export facilities and strong demand for local farm products.
What can the Legislature do to mitigate some of the risks? In areas of opportunity, how can the state lay the groundwork for the private-sector innovation that drives profitable businesses?
The Washington State Department of Agriculture Future of Farming project will develop a strategic plan to guide decision makers as they work to support the continued economic viability of the state’s $34 billion food and agriculture industry. The goal of the project is to pass on a vibrant farm economy to the next generation of Washington producers.
“It’s been over 20 years since we drafted our last strategic plan for Washington agriculture,” said WSDA Director Valoria Loveland. “While the economic picture today looks very bright with high commodity prices and growing exports, we must always be thinking ahead to anticipate tomorrow’s challenges. Some people need to be reminded that farming is a business, not a hobby. A family must make a living to keep that land in production. We want to help the next generation succeed on the farm.”
During the spring and summer, listening sessions with farmers, food processors and other members of the public will be held throughout the state. WSDA is currently requesting input through an online survey on the project’s Web site: http://www.agr.wa.gov/fof/survey.htm.
The project’s final report will be delivered to the Washington State Legislature before the end of the year.
The Washington State Department of Agriculture Web site is at http://agr.wa.gov.
WSU Field Days to Feature Bioenergy Research
Washington State University’s three major field days for small grain and cropping systems research are partnering to feature bioenergy research and development in their field day programming in June.
Research on winter wheat and spring wheat breeding, camelina as a dryland oilseed crop, the WSU biofuels research project, winter peas, fusarium crown rot resistance in wheat, and downy brome control in winter wheat will be featured at the 92nd annual WSU Lind Dryland Research Station field day on June 19. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., tours at 9 a.m.
Researchers will discuss Beyond® herbicide in a crop rotation, winter canola fertilization and weed control, dryland alfalfa varieties, undercutter and WeedSeeker® fallow management and protein wheat fertilization at the Wilke Farm field day set for June 25. Tours begin at 9:30 a.m.
Bioenergy cropping systems research will be the theme at the USDA-ARS Palouse Conservation Field Station field day set for June 26. Among other things, visitors will see oilseed variety trials, including 18 spring camelina lines. They will learn about the economics, energy, fertility and rotation analysis of canola; residual herbicide effects on canola and weed control options for canola and other potential oilseed crops.
Additionally, research of the USDA-ARS Land Management and Water Conservation Research Unit, which oversees the field station, will be showcased throughout the field day. Speakers will discuss past, present, and future directions of the unit. A wind tunnel demonstration is also planned to show its use in testing tillage, cover and other treatment effects on wind blown dust and improving air quality.
The USDA unit is located on the WSU Pullman campus.
Contact Debra Marsh, (509) 335-2915 for more information on the field days. Maps to the farms are posted at http://css.wsu.edu/overview/facilities.
Organic Farm Walk, May 19
Learn innovative ideas for getting a jump on early mixed vegetable production at Willie Green’s Organic Farm in Monroe.
Owner and farmer Jeff Miller will share his latest techniques while leading tours of greenhouses and propagation houses and looking at direct-seeded and transplanted row crops. New this year is organic celery. “It’s a hard crop to grow,” said Miller. “It requires nutrient dense soil, lots of even moisture and is very labor intensive. It took four weeks for it to germinate and will go from seed to harvest in 70 to 90 days.”
Farm Walk discussions will include a wide range of issues detailing growing, season extension, harvesting and marketing techniques, as well as updates on equipment and facilities. Willie Green’s sells at year-round farmers markets and also offers a winter CSA share.
The Farm Tour is Monday, May 19, from noon – 3:30 p.m. The cost is $10 for Tilth Producer members and $15 for non-members. Register on-site or pre-register by mailing a check to Tilth Producers, PO Box 85056, Seattle, WA 98145. A sack lunch is recommended. Beverages provided.
Willie Green’s Organic Farm is located at 19501 Tualco Road in Monroe. More information is available at www.williegreens.org or (425) 485-4128.