In the News

Everett Herald: At USDA undersecretary stop in Snohomish, farmers bemoan red tape

Janice Podsada, Everett Herald

What does a rural community look like?

In Nebraska, it can be out in the middle of nowhere. In Western Washington, it might be within a few miles of a big city.

Lawmakers, particularly those at the federal level, can struggle with the definition of rural.

One cure is to hit the road and take a look.

Xochitl Torres Small, undersecretary for rural development with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, did just that this week, stopping at Thomas Family Farms in Snohomish to hear from local farmers and get the lay of the land.

She was joined by Democratic U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, Snohomish County Agriculture Coordinator Linda Neunzig and Derek Sandison, director of the state Department of Agriculture.


There to listen and voice their concerns at the one-hour event was a small audience of local dairy farmers, cattle and sheep producers and growers.

Agriculture is 12 percent of Washington’s overall economy. The state is home to 35,000 farms of which 95% are family-owned.

In Snohomish County, agriculture is the top industry by volume, second only to aerospace. Local farming is based around specialty crops, such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, Christmas trees and flowers, rather than commodities like corn and soybeans. The county’s farmers generate about $157 million a year in annual sales.

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