This week, in response to a request from U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $11.5 million nationwide purchase of Concord grape juice, which is grown in the Yakima Valley.
The move, say the Washington state lawmakers, will provide stability for a critical Washington state agricultural industry.
Because of consecutive, exceptionally strong crop years, farmers in Washington state expressed concerns that a large excess in Concord grape supplies could cause the price of juice grapes to plummet and significantly harm one of Washington’s premier agricultural industries.
After working closely with agriculture experts and local farmers in 2013, Cantwell and Murray wrote directly to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last August, requesting the USDA purchase a large quantity of Concord grape juice supplies for use through other USDA nutrition programs.
The Yakima Valley has more than 10,600 acres of Concord grape vineyards tended to by more than 240 growers. Additional facilities that process these grapes into juice and concentrate also support many more families in the Yakima Valley.
“This announcement from the USDA is great news for the 240 juice grape farmers in Washington state,” Cantwell said.
“This means more stable prices for Washington grape growers and the many jobs they support. Senator Murray and I thank the Washington state farmers who brought this issue to our attention. We are glad it has reached a fair conclusion that keeps unstable prices from hurting a critical Washington agricultural market,” she said.
Murray said action by the USDA will ensure these local farmers and agriculture workers won’t be harmed by dangerous price fluxuations beyond their control.
“We’ve been working closely with local farmers who spotted a potentially significant market disruption, and after working with Secretary Vilsack, I’m pleased we were able to secure a critical USDA investment in an industry that supports hundreds of Washington families and businesses,” Murray said.