Even if you’ve never milked a cow or picked apples, you probably still have a thing or two in common with Washington’s farming community. That’s because, regardless of your occupation, age, ethnicity or education level, you likely enjoy eating and wouldn’t mind a stronger, more robust state economy.
Enter the agriculture industry — one that, according to the Washington Policy Center, represents 13 percent of the state’s economy and amounts to $51 billion in revenue each year. Beyond those numbers, there are plenty of reasons you should be advocating for Washington state’s farmers.
You’re reaping the benefits already
If you need a reason to support Washington state’s agriculture industry, look no further than your dinner plate. Chances are, you’re more intrinsically connected to Washington’s agriculture industry than you think. While the state is famous (rightly so) for its apples, it also produces milk, wheat, potatoes, cattle, hay, sweet cherries, grapes, pears and hops — and those are just the top goods, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.
It makes everyone more prosperous
You don’t have to wear overalls every day to benefit from the success of the agricultural industry. That’s because, as a huge chunk of Washington’s overall economy, the strength of the state’s agriculture helps everyone. Think about this: the agricultural industry in Washington provides more than 164,000 jobs. If you’ve ever taken a rudimentary economics class, you know that when the workforce is strong, so is the economy.
It’s good for the kids
If you think kids these days don’t know how to work hard, well, you might be right. But you can instill the values of hard work and responsibility in your children — while supporting local agriculture. Enroll your children in programs like Young Farmers & Ranchers, 4-H, or Future Farmers of America, which teaches children and teens to care for animals and learn important and industrious farming skills.
There are health care perks
In today’s world, health care isn’t simple — nor is it inexpensive. That said, saving money while keeping the whole family healthy is easier with group health benefits. The Washington Farm Bureau health care program is one option, and it includes 37 competitively priced medical plans, dental plans, vision plans and other insurance products. Additionally, members receive discounts on other medical services, such as My Health Pass, MedPlus and Lite Flight.
Supporting agriculture in Washington doesn’t require you to become a lobbyist or change career paths; it’s as simple as joining a group of citizens who care about the state’s economy — and keeping whole, delicious foods on their families’ dinner plates. Support Washington agriculture by purchasing state-grown produce, attending local farmers’ markets, getting your kids involved in 4-H or becoming a member of the Washington Farm Bureau. Keeping an “eye on ag” is easier — and more delicious — than you ever thought.
August 14, 2016 MyNorthwest.com