H&TP Participates in Outreach Efforts to Minority Farmers in Southern Washington
A representative from the Horticultural and Tropical Products (H&TP) Division of the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) met with minority farmers in Washington state on August 2-3 to discuss the role FAS plays in helping exporters. Many of the products grown in Washington state are exported. The two-day farm tour was sponsored by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) and included visits to Hispanic, Asian, and Native American vegetable, tree fruit, and organic farmers. Farmers from these ethnic groups make up a growing proportion of the demographic profile of farmers in Washington state. There are an estimated 500 Hispanic farmers in Yakima county alone.
The team visited an organic herb farm, which sells organic herbs both domestically and in international markets. Exports comprise about 20 percent of their sales, with Germany as their largest market. They also source medicinal plants and herbs from other countries.
The team also visited apple growers, vegetable growers, and Yakama Nation in Yakima county. The two apple growers, one of which is certified organic, have their own packing facility and sell a large portion of their apples overseas. However, many of the small Hispanic apple growers in Yakima do not have their own packing facilities so efforts are underway to build a cooperative packing facility for these small Hispanic apple growers.
The representative from H&TP also met with various small Hispanic vegetable growers in a meeting hosted by Dr. Alfonso Garcia, executive director of the Hispanic Growers Advisory Committee. Dr. Garcia, who serves as a liaison between Hispanic farmers and USDA, pointed out there are a large number of Hispanic farmers in Yakima County. Most of these Hispanic farmers grow vegetables for financial or cultural reasons. Dr. Garcia also works with the Native American community in Yakima and hosted a meeting with representatives from Yakama Nation, an Indian reservation with 1.3 million acres. Yakama Nation has 1,200 acres under cultivation, including apple orchards, alfalfa, asparagus, and cherries. They also raise cattle and salmon. They are members of the Intertribal Agricultural Council and have used MAP funding to promote pickled asparagus in Japan under the Broken Spears label. Dr. Garcia is also looking into pursuing greater cooperation between Yakama Nation and Hispanic growers.
The trip was an excellent opportunity to discuss FAS programs with minority farmers in Southern Washington. Farmers received packet consisting of an Exporter Kit, which details the services FAS provides exporters, a recent issue of the AgExporter magazine, and two articles from the Small FARM Digest titled, "Is Internet Marketing for You?" and "Should You Get into Value-Added Food Products?" By providing information on FAS activities to assist exporters, the team hopes to increase the involvement of minority farmers in exporting.
(If you would like to receive a copy of the AgExporter Kit or for further information contact Karina Ramos at 202-720-0897 or at email@example.com)