Last Friday, Senators Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and Representative Dan Newhouse as well as the rest of the Washington congressional delegation called on the USDA to declare a federal agriculture disaster for 12 counties. The lawmakers called on Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue to declare counties where crops were damaged or destroyed by unseasonably cold weather.
In late October and early November, Central and Eastern Washington experienced snowstorms and extreme cold weather events, resulting in damaged trees and vineyards and other crops that cannot be harvested.
The counties in question include: Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, Lincoln, Okanogan, Walla Walla, and Yakima. Reports from the impacted counties indicate that the cold weather damaged or destroyed up to a third of the total acres of wine grapes, nearly 14 million bushels of apples, and over 167,000 acres of potatoes.
Washingtonagnetwork.com reported that, in addition to Cantwell, Murray, and Newhouse, the letter was signed by 9 other US Representatives.