The New Year is only a few days old, but there are many reasons for concern, according to Washington state Department of Agriculture Director Derek Sandison. He said top of that list is trade, not only a lack of a trade deal with China, but also trade tension with India which is hurting Washington Ag, specifically the apple industry. On top of that, the snowpack, which Sandison said is about half of what it should be for this time of year, is very concerning.
“We look ahead at the forecast from the National Climate Prediction Center, and it’s suggesting probably average precipitation or maybe even slightly above but warmer temperatures than normal, which would give it a very much 2015 feel which was our last drought. And there were significant impacts to agriculture in 2015, particularly in snowpack dependent basins like the Yakima.”
In addition, the WSDA will closely watch the push to remove the Snake River dams. Currently an Environmental Impact Study is being conducted, and a draft of a recent study looking at the impact to eastern Washington’s economy if the dams were removed will soon be released.
Sandison said the idea of removing the dams is concerning in a variety of ways. He noted absent the dams you’ll see a very different river operation.
“Which would either cause major changes in the pumping plant configurations and intakes but you would also affect costs of production, which in some cases could push farmers out of business. So we’re very concerned about that. Concerned about the transportation issue associated in our current ability to be able to move grains and pulse crops from as far up river as Lewiston down to the Portland/Vancouver ports.”
Sandison said major modifications to the current transportation systems would need to take place to ensure Washington products can get to the global market.
On top of all that, he says his office will be watching ongoing talks between the U.S. and Canada to update the Columbia River Treaty.
If you have a story idea for the Washington Ag Network, call (509) 547-1618, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org