Impact Reports

MAKING IMPACTS GLOBALLY AND LOCALLY

WSU Extension serves the residents of Washington State by creating and delivering targeted research-based knowledge and education. It’s a mission the organization and its dedicated specialists have refined over the past century. Part of that process is communicating results.

These reports provide accounts of how our programs empower participants to better their lives. We hope the reports inspire you to join at least one of our courses or events, share your story, and provide feedback. Your involvement will help us improve our responsiveness and reach more individuals.

Improving Leafy Green Production for Direct-Market Farmers in Washington

Leafy greens are a high-value crop that can be produced year round in the mild maritime climate of the Pacific Northwest. Year-round production can improve cash flow throughout the year and is key to the economic stability for many small farmers. Maintaining continuity in sales year round is also crucial for sustaining relationships with consumers, distributors, and markets, and is fundamental to increasing sales and economies of scale for small-scale direct-market farmers. There is a strong societal, local, and regional demand for locally produced foods on a year-round basis. Access to local and regional markets currently is limited among farmers in northwest Washington by knowledge of production practices and competition from out-of-state producers.

Washington Farm Bill Outreach

The Agricultural Act of 2014, more commonly known as the Farm Bill, is recurring 5-year legislation that sets national agricultural policies. The 2014 Farm Bill has been described as a sweeping overhaul of agricultural policy. It eliminated direct support payments and replaced them with new, insurance-based programs for many important commodities in Washington such as wheat, barley, legumes, corn, and dairy. A significant departure from past programs that enrolled producers annually, is that decisions on new crop programs are binding for the life of the 2014 Farm Bill, which is at least through 2018. For dairy producers, the 2014 Farm Bill eliminated the historic MILC (Milk Income Loss Contract) program and replaced it with the insurance-based Margin Protection Program (MPP). These new programs are critical risk-management options that require producers to make enrollment decisions on programs and program options that they have never seen before.

Food $ense: Nutrition Education in Clark County

In 2014, 15.8% of Washington’s population received basic food assistance. Twelve percent of Clark County residents face challenges in meeting basic needs including adequate and healthy food. Clark County ranks 6th in the state for the highest number of people living in poverty. Only 26% of Clark County residents eat fruits and vegetables every day and 53.6% engage in regular daily physical activity. Though the population is fairly active, 25.8% of Clark County’s population is obese and 35.5% are overweight. Consequently, they are at increased risk for nutrition-related health issues and chronic disease. Compared to other income levels, low-income families consume fewer fruits, vegetables, and low-fat milk, and more high-fat foods, sweetened beverages, and other non-nutritive foods. Many lack the skills to select and prepare healthful foods within their income. In schools with a high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced meals, attendance and test scores suffer. Thirty of 43 elementary schools in 3 of Clark County’s 9 school districts have between 52% and 89% of the students receiving free or reduce breakfast and lunches.

Food $ense: Nutrition Education in Cowlitz County

In 2015, 15.8% of Washington’s population received basic food assistance. Cowlitz County ranks third in the state with 25% of its population receiving food assistance. Having limited income puts these families at risk for consuming foods with low nutritional quality and getting less physical activity. Consequently, they are at increased risk for nutritional-related health issues including obesity and chronic disease. Youth in these families are not getting adequate nutrition or meals that help them perform well in school. In schools with a high percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced meals, attendance and test scores suffer. At 8 of the 14 elementary schools in Cowlitz County, 50% or more of the population receives free or reduced breakfasts and lunches.

Beginning Farmer Programs at WSU

Declining farm numbers and an aging farmer population highlight the urgent need to support new entry farmers in Washington. Almost half of all Washington farmers are over age 60 and less than 5% are younger than age 35 (2012 USDA Census of Agriculture). A significant transfer of farming knowledge, skills, and assets to the next generation will be necessary for Washington agriculture to remain vibrant. However, new and aspiring farmers face myriad challenges, including acquiring production and business knowledge and skills, securing profitable markets, and gaining access to affordable land, water, and equipment. Beginning farmers tend to have limited access to capital and start small in terms of acreage and sales. On the last agricultural census, more than 75% of beginning farmers operated fewer than 50 acres and had sales under $10,000. Beginning farmers also are more likely to be women or immigrants than established farmers.