WASHINGTON AG NETWORK – GLENN VAAGEN – The Washington State Department of Agriculture is looking at making a $6 million appropriation request during the upcoming legislative session to help offset problems the farming community has suffered because of retaliatory tariffs. It’s estimated that the three northwest states have suffered millions and millions in losses thanks to the trade war with China that’s been in place since this summer. WSDA Director Derek Sandison said if approved, these funds would not be used to help specific commodities or growers, but work to expand market access overseas. He said a sizable portion of those fund would be used to create a state marketing program.
“For example, the state of Washington has a reputation for high quality food and ag products and we feel that people would select, preferentially select Washington products as they make their purchasing decisions.”
Currently, Washington is one of five state’s that do not have a “state brand” effort. He noted this state marketing program would help the entire state now and well into the future.
These funds would be different than the $12 billion in aid announced by the federal government back in September. First, Sandison said the USDA funds have only been established for this years, and future needs have not been addressed. He also notes with groups and organizations applying for funds from all 50 states, and so much focus on mid-west crops hurt by the tariffs, he expects the funds to be allocated quickly.
“We just don’t think there’s going to be a lot left for Washington, and that’s where we’ve focused the largest portion of the appropriation request, which is $4 million on state market access program that would provide grants to providers. It is scalable though, if we are quite successful at getting federal money, we can reduce that amount accordingly.”
Sandison says since the legislature is not in session, it’s difficult to gauge reaction to the proposed request.
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