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Washington Ag Reaches Near Record Production

The value of Washington's agricultural production for 2003 reached a near record $5.75 billion, 3.1 percent above 2002, according to the USDA Washington Agricultural Statistics Service (WASS). The record stands at $5.88 billion, which was set in 1995.

"Having seen ups and downs in the ag economy during my 20 years at USDA, I am pleased to see the ag sector continue to grow and prosper in Washington," said Ray Garibay, state director of WASS.

Apples continue to top the list with a value of production of $1.16 billion, a 12.9 percent increase over 2002. Apples represent 20 percent of the total agricultural value produced. Potatoes ranked fourth with production of $489 million, a decrease of 4.6 percent from last year.

"The value of agricultural production is up almost $200 million and that's good news,” said Valoria Loveland, director of the state department of agriculture. “Agriculture continues to be a strong, stable mainstay for our state's economy. Considering weather, shifting markets and changing crops, we're not losing economic ground. We're staying strong."

Record high values of production for major crops were recorded for apples, blueberries, all cherries, all pears, and nursery and greenhouse products (including floriculture). Blueberries had a value of $12.1 million, cherries had a value of $176 million, all pears had a value of $129 million, and nursery and greenhouse was $313 million.

For commodity groups, field crops had the highest value in 2003 with $1.72 billion, 3.3 percent below 2002. The fruits and nuts group was close behind with $1.61 billion, 11.1 percent above the previous year. Commercial vegetables totaled $389 million compared with $362 million in 2002. Berry crops were $65.7 million in 2003, up 5.4 percent from 2002's $62.4 million. Government payments in 2003 totaled $265 million, slightly over 4 percent of the total value. This was 24 percent above the previous year.

Originally posted Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2004

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