OLYMPIA — Washington farmers and ranchers set a production record last year, growing crops and raising livestock worth $9.89 billion — a 6 percent increase from 2011, according to a report this week from the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Apples climbed 16 percent, to $2.25 billion. It’s the first commodity in the state to go over the $2 billion mark, said Washington State Department of Agriculture Director Bud Hover.
Apples are the top commodity in the state, representing 23 percent of the total agriculture value. Washington is the nation’s top apple producer, growing about 60 percent of the U.S. crop.
Harvested apple orchards were worth $15,400 per acre in 2012, the report said.
After apples’ $2.25 billion, the other crops in the top five are wheat, worth $1.18 billion; milk, worth $1.16 billion; potatoes, worth $700 million; and hay, worth $679 million.
There are 39,500 farms and ranches in Washington, according to the 2007 USDA census. They employ 160,000 owners, farm workers and associated jobs, including 40,000 in processing.
“We also set record employment and sales figures in the food processing industry,” Hover said in a statement on the October report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture agency.
The value of food processing was up about 3 percent, to $15.46 billion, said state Agriculture Department spokesman Mike Louisell.
The Statistics Service report ranking 40 commodities also showed significant gains for cattle and calves, grapes, pears, dry edible beans, barley, canola and onions.
While apples shined, the totals for milk, potatoes and hay all were down. Blueberries were down 30 percent from their 2011 record.