Yakima Valley Ag Tourism Is Ripe for Growth With Help From D.C.
With 15 years of leadership under his belt, John Cooper, President and CEO of Yakima Tourism has a pretty good idea about will bring more tourists to Yakima in the future in addition to our sunshine, beer, and wine.
Cooper says the farm-to-table experience of agritourism is important to the future and Cooper just got some high-level help in making that happen.
4th District Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and is teaming up with Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) to introduce the Accelerating the Growth of Rural Innovation and Tourism Opportunities to Uphold Rural Industries and Sustainable Marketplaces which is a bit of a tortured way to say "AGRITOURISM" Act. The bill would create an Office of Agritourism at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to serve as a dedicated voice for agritourism businesses in the federal government and to consolidate information on federal resources available to agritourism business owners. Newhouse says,
From our world-class wineries and breweries to local orchards, dairies, and farmers markets, agritourism is a vital part of Central Washington's economy...I am proud to introduce the Agritourism Act to ensure that agritourism businesses have an advocate within USDA which will in turn help preserve our important agriculture traditions and honor our way of life."
Farm Life As A Money Maker
According to the most recent Census of Agriculture, agritourism-related income jumped from $202 million in 2002 to $949 million in 2017—a nearly 370% increase. In communities like Central Washington, agritourism has enabled small farmers to expand their businesses and increase access to high-quality local food sources, which has boosted local economies while maintaining the rural character of the region.
Washington Wine Is Ready to Toast Progress
Josh McDonald, Executive Director of the Washington Wine Institute says agritourism is essential to the survival of the wine industry.
This bill will help Washington wineries in his district and across the state immensely by promoting agritourism in ways that have not been done in the past.
Making Something Great Even Better
The Extension Office in Yakima County says Yakima contains one of Washington State’s most diverse agricultural cropping systems. According to the US Department of Agriculture’s 2011 Census, Yakima County is the #1 County in Washington based on the market value of crop and livestock products with ag contributing $1.2 billion to our local economy.
It's time to double down on our current success with ag products with the public's interest and appetite for the farm experience. If passed, Newhouse's legislation could help