The House Agricultural Committee is in the process of conducting Farm Bill hearings in several states, but none west of Dodge City, Kansas. On April 3, 2012, the Western Association of Agricultural Experiment Station Directors, which represents the agricultural experiment stations at the Land Grant Universities in the West, wrote a letter to key representatives on the House Ag Committee asking them to schedule Farm Bill hearings in the West because the Dodge City, KS location is “…quite inconvenient for producers and other interested parties from western states wishing to attend. Attention to the research and policy needs of the West should be afforded the same consideration as other regions of the Nation.”
The 13 western states and the Pacific Trust Territories represent 50% of the U.S. land area; cover more than 25% of the globe and, according to the latest data from the National Agricultural Statistic Service, accounts for 23.1% of the value of all crops. More than 400 different commodities, most of which are specialty crops, are commercially produced in the West. Examples include:
- Four western states (CA, WA, OR and ID) produce 64% of the value of specialty crop production of the top ten specialty crop producing states.
- California (#1) and Oregon (#3) account for more than 40% of the total value of nursery, greenhouse, floriculture, and sod production in the U.S.
- Western states account for over 50% of the total value of U.S. milk/dairy product sales; California is #1 and Idaho is 5th.
- Three western states (CA, OR, WA) produce more than 71% of all fruit grown in the U.S. with a value exceeding $13.7 billion.
- California was the largest producer of horticultural crops with over $2.3 billion in sales in 2009; almost twice as much as the next largest state, Florida ($1.3 billion), Oregon ranked third at $791 million
- Three western states, CO, CA and WY ranked 2nd, 3rd and 6th in sheep sales.
- More than a half of all U.S. organic sales is grown in California (38.4%), Washington (9.3%) and Oregon (5.2%)