Agriculture is a major economic factor in the region, Spokane’s mayor says.
Agriculture provides an annual economic impact of $587 million and more than 1,500 jobs in the Spokane region, Mayor David Condon said.
“A lot of people don’t think of Spokane County as a farm hub, but I’ve seen we’re the second highest number of farms in the state, with more than 2,500 farms,” he said. The average farm size is 289 acres.
“The reality is, it’s small and medium-sized business and it’s a major economic driver for our community,” he said. “It’s a major lifestyle in our community. We’re still an ag community, but it’s backed up by some pretty serious economic numbers.
“The reality is the ag industry is strong, and it should be strong, but it’s also exciting to hear the magnitude,” he said.
Condon will declare Ag Week in Spokane for a second year during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum, which take place Feb. 4-6.
Condon said he is also excited to see more wine producers come into the region, and there are discussions about a cork or keg district in Spokane to highlight the growing craft beer industry. Condon also pointed to a growing “farm to fork” phenomenon and an increasing demand for locally grown products.
“It’s exciting to see the interest in that, to see that we can really be leaders in that area,” he said. “I think the urban city dweller is in many ways demanding and looking to the rural parts of our community for a lifestyle.”
These “exploding” agricultural movements appeal to urban residents and have a direct impact on local producers, he said.
He also hopes to see the resurgence of interest in the agriculture industry tied to schools, engaging students in agricultural career fields.
“It has become very popular to talk about science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” he said. “Those fields are alive and well in the ag industry.”