It goes without saying, 2020 was a difficult year for Washington’s farm economy. Between challenges with domestic and international trade, worker safety, new government regulation and more, 2020 was a year almost everyone was happy to see come to an end. Unfortunately, for farmers across the Evergreen state, 2021 has not been much better. Drought started to develop in March, and only got worse when record heat appeared in June, and stuck with the area much of the summer.
Derek Sandison, director of the Washington state Department of Agriculture said trade remains a challenge. He noted the food supply chain remains disrupted globally, but trade challenges are not exclusively due to the pandemic.
“Some markets we are seeing rebounds, and in others we’re not, and that’s exacerbated this year by the container situation where a lot of containers are going back to Asia empty rather than being loaded with U.S. products, particularly agricultural products at our ports and shipped overseas. So, it’s still a really bumpy road that we’re facing right now.”
Sandison noted the WSDA continues to work with USDA and the USTR to promote trade and look for additional opportunities for Washington producers. He added the WSDA is also trying to respond to the struggles livestock producers have reported for many years.
“We had a grant program back in December and we’re about to launch another one to help improve capacity for livestock slaughter and processing. There are many, many moving parts that we’re managing and we’re doing our best to make sure that we’re addressing supply chain issues the best we can.”
Despite the challenges of 2020 and 2021, Sandison said Washington producers continue to rise to the challenge and overcome adversity in a variety of ways.
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