Thursday, February 22, 2024

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Cultivating Love: A Valentine's Day Ode from the Washington State Department of Agriculture

 Kim Vaughn

 As Valentine's Day approaches, hearts are aflutter with love, and what better way to celebrate this special day than by exploring the romantic side of agriculture? 

You might not consider the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) in the same sentence as romance. But hold on, because we're about to unveil the love-filled side of WSDA that ensures your Valentine's Day is as special as can be. 

Beyond the fields of green and the rows of crops, there lies a love story between WSDA, farmers and producers, and the land they cultivate. From flowers to gift baskets, and even the journey to your romantic dinner, WSDA works year-round to make sure you feel loved every single day.

Flowers for that special someone 

When it comes to flowers for your special someone, WSDA is on the case! We play a vital role in flower inspections, ensuring the quality and health of floral products within the state. As part of our regulatory efforts, we conduct inspections to monitor for pests, diseases, and compliance with agricultural standards in the cultivation and trade of flowers. In other words, we make sure there are no unexpected guests, like Japanese beetles, hiding in your roses. These inspections are crucial to maintaining the integrity of the floral industry, safeguarding against the spread of harmful pests, and ensuring that consumers receive high-quality, disease-free flowers.

Our commitment to rigorous flower inspections contributes to the overall health and sustainability of Washington's floral ecosystem, fostering a thriving environment for the cultivation and enjoyment of diverse and beautiful flowers. Nurseries are diligently inspected to ensure that your bouquet is pest-free, so your romantic gesture is as delightful as can be.

Getting you there

The journey to your date is just as important, and WSDA is here to support you every mile of the way. With a focus on both traditional gas and eco-friendly electric vehicles, we make sure that the gas pumps and electric charging stations are delivering everything you pay for. Last year alone, we inspected a whopping 10,788 gas meters, ensuring fueling up is smooth and worry-free. 

The WSDA Weights and Measures Program fosters fairness in commercial transactions by conducting tests and inspections on commercial devices, verifying prices, inspecting packages, educating the public, monitoring fuel quality, and investigating complaints.

Gift baskets and cottage food regulations 

Now, let's talk about those delightful gift baskets and the goodies they hold. WSDA plays a crucial role in ensuring that cottage food operations are producing safe treats for your enjoyment. 

A Cottage Food Permit enables Washington State residents to produce safe food items, including baked goods, candies, jams, jellies, preserves, fruit butters, dry spice blends, or dry tea blends in their home kitchen. We make sure that your Valentine's Day treats are not only delicious but also adhere to the highest safety standards. Additionally, we require all ingredients be included on the labels so you don’t get any unexpected surprises in your Valentine’s goodies.


So, this Valentine's Day as you exchange flowers, enjoy a romantic dinner out, and savor delicious treats from your gift basket, take a moment to appreciate the behind-the-scenes efforts of WSDA. We're your ally in ensuring that every aspect of your celebration, from the blossoms in your hand to the treats on your plate, is filled with love and safety. 

To stay updated on WSDA activities, subscribe to our email lists and receive notifications directly in your inbox.

Cheers to a Valentine's Day made extra special.

With Love, 
WSDA Staff

Monday, January 8, 2024

Take the Climate Resilience Producer Survey

Kim Vaughn

Navigating climate challenges in Washington's agricultural landscape

Rich soils, diverse climates, and large-scale irrigation infrastructure make Washington one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Washington farmlands and farmers are of global importance, moving more than $17 billion per year in food and agricultural products through Washington's ports, producing over 300 different crops, and generating $12.8 billion per year in agricultural production value for the state economy.

These activities are critical to urban and rural communities alike, providing food security, nutrition, and thriving livelihoods in Washington and beyond.

Extreme weather, invasive pests and disease, and declining water availability are daily impacting agricultural production in Washington. Managing the wide range of potential climate risks and costs moving forward has made livestock and crop production—already challenging and volatile industries—even more challenging. However, with the right support and innovation, Washington farmers are poised to lead the way in building a more economically viable and climate-resilient future. 

The Washington State Department of Agriculture, Climate Resilience Plan, is one important step towards that goal. 

Climate Resilience Plan

To support the continued viability and vitality of Washington agriculture, WSDA has launched an 18-month climate resilience planning process, in partnership with Washington State University. The Climate Resilience Plan will summarize recent climate science, identify vulnerabilities, highlight opportunities, and include newly developed resources. We intend for this work to be informed by the needs and experiences of Washington producers. It is essential that your voice is heard.

Take the survey

Your responses will help us understand the on-farm impacts of climate change, resources in use, and current agricultural needs.

We want to hear from small and large producers from every crop and animal operation in every part of the state.

This information will help us communicate the nuances of climate change in agriculture to industry stakeholders and policymakers, and to build programs that are in direct response to your feedback. Your input is valued and appreciated.

Survey participants will be entered into a drawing to win a $100 VISA gift card.

The survey is available in English and Spanish. 

Please take a few minutes to fill out this short, anonymous survey by February 23, 2024.

We thank you for your participation in this effort.

Friday, December 22, 2023

Santa’s reindeer cleared to fly into Washington State on Christmas Eve

Dr. Amber Itle
Washington State Veterinarian

Mother and daughter reindeer duo take a nap at the
Leavenworth Reindeer Farm in Leavenworth,
Not all elves make toys, some take care of Santa’s team of reindeer. Santa’s head herds-elf, Ming Ming, oversees reindeer husbandry and care at the North Pole.  The elves have all been preparing for the big day by taking special care to properly condition the team to ensure they can endure the long flight. The elves work hard to minimize stress by providing reindeer with optimal nutrition, fresh air, clean bedding and lots of space. Hermie, the elf dental specialist inspects and “floats” all their teeth for optimal oral health. 

Ming Ming is also in charge of making sure all the reindeer health requirements are met before flying around the world.  While planning for Santa’s stops in the United States, he checked to see what each State requires.  All the reindeer that cross state lines must meet Washington State import requirements, including a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) issued by an accredited veterinarian and a permit number to move between States for toy delivery. A CVI is a special animal health document that certifies that the animals listed “are not showing signs of infectious, contagious and/or communicable diseases” and have met all the required vaccinations and testing requirements.  Santa’s reindeer tested negative for tuberculosis, brucellosis, and meningeal worms and have maintained “free” status in the CWD Herd Certification Program.

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph all received clearance to fly into Washington state. 

Washington State Veterinarian Dr. Ben Smith met with Ming Ming to examine the reindeer, check his paperwork, and review his on farm and travel biosecurity plans. Ranger Rick stopped the movement as the package hauler crossed the Canadian border and determined that all  pertinent documents were correct.

Santa’s Top 10 Biosecurity Tips

  1. No visitors to the North Pole. 
  2. Keep a closed reindeer herd.
  3. Perform annual laboratory testing for diseases of concern.
  4. Establish a relationship with a veterinarian and perform annual exams and vaccinations.
  5. Bring your own reindeer grain, hay, and water for the journey.
  6. When traveling, never land on the ground; rooftops are cleaner.
  7. Avoid direct contact with wildlife, domestic animals and humans. Steer clear of migrating waterfowl that might be carrying avian influenza.
  8. Clean and disinfect your sleigh and boots between rooftops, states, and countries and when returning to the North Pole.
  9. Isolate all reindeer returning from toy delivery for 30 days.
  10. Designate elves to care for reindeer who have traveled. 

The herd eats a snack at Leavenworth Reindeer
Farm in Leavenworth, Washington. 
Make sure to track Santa and the reindeer’s flight path on December 24 using NORAD’s Santa Tracker.

Remember, if you are moving animals across state lines this holiday season to check to meet the interstate animal movement requirements.

Have a safe and happy holiday season from our end of the barn to yours. 


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Ofelio Borges Receives Latino Leadership Award for Contributions to Washington's Tree Fruit Industry

Ofelio Borges, Technical Services and Education Program manager at Washington State Department of Agriculture, was honored with the prestigious Latino Leadership Award from the Washington State Tree Fruit Association (WSTFA). The award, presented during the association's annual meeting in Kennewick on Dec. 5, recognizes outstanding individuals who have made significant contributions to the Hispanic community in Washington's tree fruit industry. 

Born in Hidalgo, Mexico, Ofelio Borges has dedicated 35 years to the Washington tree fruit industry, making him a highly respected figure. His extensive knowledge and experience have earned him the admiration and respect of his peers. As a program manager for technical services and education, Borges has been instrumental in developing and implementing pesticide training programs in Washington. One of his notable achievements includes the creation of the Worker Protection Standard Train the Trainer program, which has trained hundreds of trainers across the state.

Jacqui Gordon N., Director of Training, Education, and Member Services at the Washington State Tree Fruit Association, speaks highly of Ofelio Borges' dedication and passion for his work. She says, "His professional ethics are contagious, his desire to grow and above all, to help others grow is admirable."

In addition to his role at the Washington State Department of Agriculture, Borges also oversees the Farmworker Education Program, ensuring that farmworkers receive the necessary training and support for their safety and success. His commitment to the well-being of farmworkers and his extensive experience in safety issues related to agriculture have made him an invaluable asset to the industry.

The Latino Leadership Award acknowledges Ofelio Borges' remarkable contributions and serves as a testament to his unwavering dedication to the Hispanic community in Washington's tree fruit industry. His achievements and impact continue to inspire others, and his commitment to excellence sets a high standard for future leaders in the field.