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Business Environment

The Nation

America's May 2009 trade deficit in goods and services decreased $34.6 billion, and exports were down $33.3 billion, or 21.3%.  An unanticipated deficit reduction, reported by the United States Commerce Department, Bureau of Economic Analysis, provides some positive indicators that the net ratio of exports is increasing.  As of the end of May 2009, exports had in fact increased by $2.0 billion to $82.1 billion, while imports were $119.4 billion.  Of the increase in exported goods, food, feeds, and beverages were $0.3 billion.
Bloomberg, in its July 16th, 2009 report, has stated that; "Overall, the gap between imports and exports has decreased 9.8% to $26.0 billion, the smallest deficit in nearly ten years.  A shrinking deficit signals trade will be a stronger contributor to the U.S. gross domestic product."  To put this information into some agri-perspective, according to the Department of Commerce, the gross value of 2006 agriculture values was $257.7 billion and net farm income nationally was $59.0 billion.  Since 2006, the gross value of agriculture has increased 1.6% to 2.8% annual.  Even though only about 2% of America's workers are employed at farms, agriculture remains one of the nation's most vital domestic and export industries.
According to Trade Show Week's International report for July 2009, the international meetings business grew last year with Germany and the United States topping the list of countries with the most events that have global rotations.  The International Congress & Convention Association confirms the increase, indicating that there was a 12% increase in 2008 with 7,475 events documented.
Trade agreements continue to influence the dynamics of the exposition industry, and many nations, some of whom had been bitter rivals, have joined in trading blocks for their mutual benefits and economic stability.  Today, national economies are increasingly connected in complex ways.  Globalization has minimized many regional and national differences, and exhibitions are becoming institutionalized across borders - for example, business and government leaders around the world  know that INTEROP, a high-tech, business information and technology trade event, has progressively crossed borders and language barriers, and is active in event production in the United States, India and Japan.  In terms of International Agricultural Expositions, there are several prominent agricultural expositions and trade events in the United States and at various locations throughout the world as indicated below.
  • World Ag Expo, Tulare, California
  • Xinjiang International Agricultural Machinery Exposition & Central Asia Agricultural Production Materials Fair, Xinjiang, China
  • Jiangsu International Agricultural Exposition, Jiangsu, China
  • Changchun International Agriculture-Food Expo, Changchun, China
  • China International Agricultural Exposition, Shanyang, China
  • Keystone International Livestock Exposition, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Madar-I-Sharif International Agricultural Fair, Balkh Province, Afganistan
  • International Agricultural Fair - AGRO, Kiev, Ukraine
  • Kunming International Agricultural Exposition, Yunnan Province, China
  • Paris International Agricultural Show, Paris, France
  • China International Foodstuff Exposition, Guangzhou, China
  • AG CONNECT Expo, Orlando, Florida
  • Philippine International Flora & Fauna Garden Expo, Manila, Philippines
  • China International Fruit & Vegetable Industry Expo, Shanghai, China
  • Big Iron Farm Show & Exposition, West Fargo, North Dakota
  • Sunbelt Ag Expo, Moultrie, Georgia
  • International Poultry & Feed Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia
  • International Green Week, Berlin, Germany
  • AGRITECH, Israel
  • Agri-Trade International Expo, Red Deer, Canada
  • AGRITRADE Expo & Conference, Antigua, Guatemala
  • EXPOAGRO, Buenos Aries, Argentina
  • Agri Forum, Bahia, Brazil
  • ALIMENTARIA, Mexico Food & Beverage Expo, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Agro-Mashov International Agricultural Trade Fair, Tel Aviv, Israel
Note:  There are most likely other agricultural expositions that have permanent status or are held periodically.  For a compete listing of International Ag-Expos please consult the world-wide web.

Pacific Northwest Region

Collectively, the Pacific Northwest region contributes over $20 billion or 7% of all agricultural products within the United States.  The states of Washington, Oregon and Idaho produce a diverse and valued menu of agricultural products.  The natural resource base within the Pacific Northwest is equally diverse and rich in nutrients, climate and accessibility.  The sea, forests, valleys, plains and rivers each contribute to nurturing food, beverages and agricultural products for ever expanding human and industrial markets in America and abroad.
Farmers, researchers, scientists, business, education and government have continually worked to improve products, production, nutritional values and application of agri-products to essentially every aspect of life and the economy.
Farm Characteristics - 2007
Pacific Northwest Region



14.8 million Ac.
16.4 million Ac.
11.5 million Ac.
42.7 million


381 Ac.
425 Ac.
454 Ac.
420 Ac. (Avg.)


No. of FARMS
31,933 (Avg.)
95,800 (Total)

SOURCE:   USDA-Economic Research / Landerman-Moore Associates
Farm Financial Indicators - 2007
Pacific Northwest Region
$8.2 billion
$5.4 billion
$6.4 billion
$20.0 billion
$2.5 billion
$1.5 billion
$1.8 billion
$5.8 billion
SOURCE:   USDA-Economic Research Service / Landerman-Moore Associates

Washington Agriculture

Washington is geographically positioned astride a significant international trade route linking the state with the World's economy.  Agriculture is a cornerstone industry of the state of Washington and is rapidly evolving into a high value multi-layered products industry with expanding domestic and international markets.  High quality soils, diverse climates and a massive water retention and irrigation system make Washington one of the most growing regions in the world.  In addition, the state has 74 active ports including several deep water ports, river ports and air and land transport ports which readily link to Central and South American markets and Asian markets as well as our Canadian neighbors to the north.
The following data is provided by the Washington State Department of Agriculture in its June 1, 2009 report.  (Please refer to Washington Agriculture Strategic Plan 2020 & Beyond.)
  • Washington's food and agriculture production is a $42 billion industry and employs over 160,000 people, contributing 13% to the state's overall economy.
  • Washington's food and agricultural products exports were nearly $9.3 billion in 2007 and currently is the third largest exporter in the United States.
  • Washington's 39,000 farms power a diverse agricultural economy, led by the state's apple industry with more than 57% of apple production in the United States.
  • The top ten crops and food processing industries and their 2007 annual output values are:

1.    Apples
2.    Milk
3.    Wheat
4.    Potatoes
5.    Cattle
6.    Hay
7.    Nursery/Greenhouse
8.    Cherries
9.    Pears
10.  Grapes

$  1.8 billion
$  1.1 billion
$ 975 million
$ 685 million
$ 581 million
$ 517 million
$ 343 million
$ 327 million
$ 178 million
$ 172 million

  • Additional high value crops and commodities include hops, farm forest products, fish, shellfish, berries and mint oils.
According to the American Farmland Trust, the amount of agricultural land under production in Washington in 2007 was 15.1 million acres which reflects a 4.3% reduction in agri-production land over a 10-year period due to development, land conversion to non-agricultural estates, environmental conversion, non-cultivation, public acquisition and other reasons.  However, per acre production ratios are increasing within some sectors of the agriculture industry.

The Yakima Valley

Located in Central Washington, the Yakima Valley is the number one agricultural products producer in the entire state with crops valued at $1.2 billion annual.  The valley, consisting of the City of Yakima and rural communities, offers a skilled workforce, quality education, easy and affordable transportation alternatives, and a climate conducive to robust agricultural production.
The area's strategic location and access to local and regional port facilities and transportation corridors support its trading ties with Canada, Mexico, the Pacific Rim and Central and South America.  The state's port system is well established and continues to expand.  This critical tool of commerce and contributor to the state's economy provides jobs, cargo transport and cost effective access to global markets.
The Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington Public Ports Association jointly commissioned a report of the port system.  The reader is referred to the "2009 Marine Cargo Forecast" for details regarding transportation as a key element of Agri-Fair of the Americas.  Local and regional transportation corridors an infrastructure include:
  • Ground Transport:


Regional highway systems include I-82 linking Yakima to I-84 and I-90, connecting to Interstate 5 north/south corridor serving the cities of Seattle/Tacoma, Spokane, Boise and Salt Lake City.  The I-5 corridor connects western seaboard cities and ports from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to Oregon, California and Mexico.
  • Rail Transport

The major railroad freight line connecting Yakima to the regional ports and world as well as Northern Hemisphere continental markets is the Burlington Northern Santa Fe or BNSF Railroad Company.  Additionally, the Union Pacific, a competing rail company serves the region.  In the fall of 1986, after purchasing 350 miles of rail in the Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin from Burlington Northern, Inc., the Temple family formed the Washington Central Railroad Company.  By 1996, WCRC had increased shipping from 15,000 to 31,000 railcars a year.
In 1995, Burlington Northern Railroad and Santa Fe Railroad merged to create the world's largest railroad.  The newly formed Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) looked at the fastest growing areas of the country and identified the Pacific Northwest as an area to focus their efforts.  In particular there was a need to provide trans-continental rail service that linked the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma and US market centers.  As a result, the WCRC was merged into the Burlington Northern Santa Fe.  And, since the BNSF only had an interest in the mainline of the WCRC, the Temple family leased the 84 rail miles between Connell and Moses Lake                                                                             to form the Columbia Basin Railroad Company.

  • Air Transport

In 1926, the location of the Yakima Airport (McAllister Field) was an 80 acre field of sagebrush.  In 1932, the airport was improved by adding a 2,600 ft long gravel landing strip with a drainage system. Shortly after this, the area was graded and surfaced for Runway 9/27, at 3,750 ft, and Runway 4/22 at 3,000 ft.  In 1940, the old runways were converted into taxiways and a new 5,000 ft runway (the new Runway 9/27) and a new 4,000 ft runway (the new Runway 4/22) were completed.  In 1949, a passenger terminal was constructed which also housed the FAA control tower and the local National Weather Service office.  In 1974, the FAA built a new control tower. The first Instrument Landing System was installed on Runway 9/27 in 1953.
Today the high load bearing runways are 7,603 feet long with a 7,600 foot parallel taxiway.  The airport has a new passenger terminal and continues to serve the growing commercial passenger, cargo and private aviation needs of the Greater Yakima Valley.  McAllister Field, the Yakima Air Terminal, is now an established regional hub which records 71,162 passenger enplanements, and manages approximately 27.4 million lbs of cargo annually.

  • Marine Transport

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Since 1932, water transport companies have offered a variety of barge transportation services on the Columbia-Snake River System. Today, such companies endeavor to provide extended services to agricultural and industrial customers, through a multi-modal transportation system. River service focuses on the Pacific Northwest market with an integrated system of towboats, barges, and terminals. As a normal course of business, water transport companies operating on the Columbia-Snake System handle grain, fruit, refined petroleum products, wood and wood products, both liquid and dry fertilizers, and container freight of all kinds.  The water transport system also provides a variety of harbor services, including ship assists and has boats, personnel, and specialty barges that are capable of accommodating a wide range of transportation needs over the full length of the Columbia-Snake River System.

Ninety percent of all world commodity trade is transported by marine systems.  The Columbia-Snake System is one of the most modern intermodal transportation networks in the United States.  As a commercial waterway, the system extends from the Pacific Ocean over 465 miles to eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
Regionally, the Columbia-Snake River System is accessed by several river ports one of the most prominent being the Port of Benton County which has over 6,000 feet of Columbia River frontage. Currently the system transports 82.2 million metric tons of goods and agricultural products annually to domestic and world markets. According to the Washington Ports Association Marine Cargo Forecast 2009, by 2020, the Marine tonnage transport rate is estimated to be 99.8 million metric tons annually.
A diverse, hard working and multicultural population is an underlying force driving sustainable growth in the Yakima Valley.  Through cooperative efforts, government, private industry, education, financial institutions, and established as well as new agricultural industries have strengthened Yakima's global links, particularly in the field of agriculture, advancing development of related technologies, equipment, food processing and packaging systems, an a number of high value innovative agri-products.
The Yakima Valley Economic Development Partnership is facilitated by SIED, (Supporting Investments in Economic Development Board) a public economic development agency that works to sustain and grow the economic base of the Yakima Valley.  The County of Yakima, which oversees SIED operations, has a strong partnership with the Central Washington Fair Association created through a lease for State Fair Park property an facilities.  The Association (CWFA) has functioned as an economic engine for over 100 years and strives to attract, retain, and grow businesses and jobs in the region.  This public and private alliance has made significant strides and facilitated notable accomplishments in job retention, new jobs, commerce and economic development opportunity over the past decades.  Most important, the confluence of economic, political and social interests are aligned in a manner that will facilitate the Central Washington Fair Association's objective to contribute much more in terms of economic benefit to the region through implementation of the Agri-Fair of the Americas.

Event Profile


The Agri-Fair of the Americas concept was originally presented at a meeting of the Central Washington Fair Association Board of Directors in the fall of 2008.  In February 2009, the concept was discussed with the US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration (EDA) at its Regional Office in Seattle, Washington.  Agri-Fair of the Americas is founded on principles of domestic and international economic development through establishing a symposium and exposition platform for agriculture and agri-industries development in the Yakima region, state of Washington, and the Pacific Northwest region.  The world symposium will facilitate educational, technical and products demonstration while the annual Agri-Fair event will facilitate exposition and demonstrate a full compliment of agri-industry equipment, technologies, products and services for western hemisphere markets and other international interests.
Agri-Fair of the Americas will introduce its inaugural trade event when all organizational, advertising and logistical work is complete.  The symposiums will precede the main annual Agri-Fair event by approximately 10 months and will focus on a number of subjects including the following.
  • AGRITEC:  An agricultural technologies symposium for the presentation, evaluation and testing of new products, equipment and applications in the field of agriculture, food production, processing, storage and distribution.
  • AGRINUTRITION:  A gathering of education, medical, government, industry and health leaders to exchange data and examine studies related to human and animal nutrition, food safety and product security in the Americas, Europe, Asia and Africa.
  • AGRISCIENCE:  A combined academic, government and business exposition, and exchange of emerging agricultural scientific research related to soils, aquatics, food, fuels and industrial applications of agriculture.
  • AGRIMARKETING:  A symposium and lecture series focused on new market development, expansion of existing markets, market sustainability indexing, advertising and marketing methods, technologies and resources in the Americas and world-wide.
The AGRITEC symposium may also focus on export banking and finance tied to agricultural science, technology an manufacturing engaged in food production, processing, storage and distribution.  AGRITEC and similar symposiums will be produced on a bi-annual cycle beginning as an export program for agricultural equipment, science, technologies and services.  The symposium will be complemented with banquets, entertainment, recreational and cultural activities.  Additional symposiums will be hosted and produced with emphasis on the subjects outlined above and other agricultural subjects that advance agri-industries in domestic and international markets.  The symposiums will serve as cultural relations activities that extol international foods culinary practices, farming methods, nutrition, agri-products and other agricultural related products for the domestic commercial applications.
When possible, the AGRITEC symposium and all other symposiums as well as the annual Agri-Fair of the Americas will be complemented with cultural activities, expositions, demonstrations and themed entertainment reflective of the participating nations' and their national and cultural heritage.
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