The Importance of Agriculture in Washington & Why Labeling GE Foods Matters

Three of the most important exports for Washington are wheat, apples, and salmon.

Reason #1 for Labeling: 64 countries already require labels on GE foods, including many of Washington’s key trade partners

  • According to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Japan is the state’s largest wheat customer. Last year, Japan imported 25 percent of Washington’s wheat, worth $678.4 million. Like many other countries, Japan requires on GE foods.
  • Many of our state’s major trading partners require labels on GE foods. Nine of the ten largest products from the U.S. Customs District in Seattle between January and March 2013 require on GE foods, including the U.K., Australia, China, Japan, France and Russia.
  • Seven of the ten countries importing Washington apples require on GE foods, including India, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Reason #2 for Labeling: Washington jobs depend on a thriving agricultural sector

  • Washington’s apple sector accounted for an estimated and a total annual employee compensation of $1.95 billion in 2010-2011.
  • Nearly all the wheat farms in Washington are owned and .
  • There are roughly active wheat growers in Washington and more than Washington jobs are tied to the wheat farming industry.
  • In 2011, the seafood industry in Washington supported .
  • Commercial fisheries in Washington provided $148.3 million in personal income and in 2006. At least Washington jobs depend on the salmon industry in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.

Reason #3 for Labeling: Washington agriculture contributes billions to the state’s economy

  • Washington is the wheat producing state in the nation, with more than 2.2 million acres of wheat in production. Wheat farmers in Washington produced of wheat last year.
  • The production value of Washington wheat was , according to 2011 data.
  • Washington apples, sold as fresh or processed, are estimated to be a a year industry.
  • In the 2010-2011 season, the total economic output generated by all the levels of production, packing, processing, marketing and research of apples amounted to more than in total value of output.
  • Commercial harvest and wholesale fishing in Washington generates economic activity of annually.
  • Seafood processing also contributes significantly to Washington’s economy by generating products with a wholesale value of in 2006.

Reason #4 for Labeling: Washington’s economy depends on the export of agricultural goods

  • While half the nation’s wheat crop is exported, of wheat grown in Washington State is sold overseas.
  • More than of all U.S. white wheat comes from Washington. In 2011, Asia imported of the U.S.’s white wheat, followed by Egypt at 11 percent.
  • In 2011, canned and prepared seafood products represented the processed agricultural export industry in Washington
  • According to NOAA, annual landings for Washington’s commercial fishing industry totaled 95,383 metric tons worth more than .
  • In 2006, apple exports were worth and an estimated of Washington apples are exported overseas, with major markets in Asia, Canada, Mexico and South America.
  • According to Bloomberg News, wheat for July delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade dropped 1.1 percent to $6.9475 a bushel and 11 percent this year after unapproved GE wheat was found contaminating an Oregon wheat field.