Proud to support Washington agriculture!

Hawkins wheat silo e-news banner

June 1, 2021

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Growing up in Wenatchee as the son of a tractor dealer, I learned to greatly appreciate the important role of agriculture in our region in all of its beneficial ways, including the jobs it provides, the healthy food to enjoy, and its proud history of innovation. There is no doubt that the tree fruit and farming industries are hugely important as an overall economic driver to our region and state. I am proud to serve as the state senator of a region known for its hydropower, recreation, and agriculture.

Agriculture is key to Washington’s success

For some fun facts, Washington produced 134 million boxes of apples in 2020, shipping to domestic and international markets. For information about Washington apples and other tree fruit, click here. Washington wines are part of another key farming industry, encouraging tremendous tourism to our region and producing high-quality wines as good as any area of the world. Click here for more information about the Washington wine industry. For those of you like me living in Douglas County, you are also familiar with our region’s many successful wheat farms near Waterville. In 2020, Washington wheat growers harvested over 160 million bushels of wheat, much of it grown in Douglas County.

Apples in market

There are approximately 2,500 known varieties of apples in the United States. The latest – in development for many years – is Washington state’s Cosmic Crisp. 

Exciting times for Washington’s apple industry

This past year was a very significant year for Washington apples with international trade disputes as well as the release of the newest apple variety, the Cosmic Crisp, developed by the Washington State University Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee. The Cosmic Crisp is a hybrid of the Honeycrisp and Enterprise varieties. It was also the 25th anniversary of the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF), the charity developed by our local tree fruit industry. WAEF provides college scholarships to farmworker and agricultural families and helps connect our local values with expanded educational opportunities. Thanks to the generosity of our agricultural industry, WAEF has provided over $9 million in scholarships to more than 2,000 students since it was founded in 1994. It has been my honor to attend many scholarship luncheons and to observe these amazing students be awarded significant college scholarships. In partnership with the Washington Apple Commission and WAEF, I sponsored and passed Senate Bill 6032, authorizing the Washington apples license plate to raise money for college scholarships.

Click here to order your own Washington apples license plate!

WA apple license plate design

Passage of my Senate Bill 6032 in 2020 authorized a special license plate, designed by the Washington Apple Commission, to help promote our apple industry and raise scholarship funds for the Washington Apple Education Foundation. It was an honor to partner with industry leaders to pass this bill. Click here to order.

Washington’s wheat growers among nation’s best

According to the Washington Grain Commission, “About 80 percent of the wheat grown in Eastern Washington is soft white wheat, one of six classes grown in the United States. It is used for cookies, crackers, pastries and Asian delicacies including sponge cake.” Harvest of wheat in our region can begin as early as July and often continues into September. If you get a chance later this year to enjoy a summer drive up Badger Mountain Road to Waterville, you will probably see wheat being harvested and hauled away. Washington state is one of the top wheat-producing states in the United States. In 2020, for example, Washington only trailed Montana, Kansas, and North Dakota in wheat production. Along with apples, dairy, cattle, potatoes, cherries, and hay, wheat is one of the top agricultural products in our state. Click here for Washington Wheat Facts.

Wheat field in Douglas County

Local wheat fields line both sides of Badger Mountain Road in Douglas County.

wheat field

Washington state is one of the top wheat-producing states in the United States.

Local wine production is key to our economy

Washington state has over 400 wine grape growers producing over 70 varieties. Many of these growers are located throughout North Central Washington as the soil and temperatures are well suited for grape growing. Many growers also have vineyards and produce wine. Washington state ranks as one of the nation’s best for premium wine production, resulting in nearly 18 million cases of wine annually. As you can imagine, this industry has a hugely beneficial role to our local and state economy. In addition to the production and distribution of wine and wine grapes, regional vineyards and production facilities attract visitors from around the world to sample and enjoy regionally produced wine. In addition to the economic and social impact of this industry, local vineyards are also highly popular locations for weddings and other gatherings. Learn more about local wines in The Foothills Magazine’s annual wine issue or here.

red wine grapes

Agri-tourism is a fast-growing part of our state's economy. Many visitors flock to Chelan and other areas of the 12th District to walk the vineyards and sample wines.

Red grapes in bucket

North Central Washington is now well-known for growing excellent wine grapes.

Status of 2021 legislative priorities for agriculture

  • Senate Bill 5045 – Would set aside grant money for training and support for custom meat processors to expand their capacity. (Passed Senate 48-0. Died in House Appropriations Committee.)
  • Senate Bill 5172 - This bill follows a State Supreme Court decision to protect agricultural land owners from retroactive overtime payments while phasing in overtime payments over multiple years, beginning in 2022 (Signed by Gov. Inslee.)
  • Senate Bill 5230 –  Relates to the permitting process to access groundwater stored as a result of the Bureau of Reclamation. (Signed by Gov. Inslee.)
  • Senate Bill 5253 – Creates a designated task force to implement the prior task force’s recommendation and the pollinator health strategy through the state Department of Agriculture. (Signed by Gov. Inslee.)
  • Senate Bill 5318 – Increases fertilizer application, license, inspection, and late fees. (Signed by Gov. Inslee.)
  • Senate Bill 5362 – Strengthens funding for agricultural fairs in Washington by gradually increasing the amount of money shifted from the state general fund to the state fair fund. (Signed by Gov. Inslee.)
  • Senate Bill 5396 – Under this bill, housing used for H-2A farm workers is removed from the farmworker housing sales and use tax exemption. Critics say this will increase the cost of farmworker housing. (Signed by Gov. Inslee.)
  • House Bill 1091 – Directs the Department of Ecology to adopt rules establishing a Clean Fuels Program to eventually reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in fuel by 20% by 2035. Critics say it could hurt farmers and cause gas prices to rise substantially, without any benefit for roads. (Signed by Gov. Inslee.)
Sen. Hawkins fruit award

Supporting our region’s agricultural interests is very important to my service as a state senator. I was honored to receive the “Legislative Champion” award from the Washington State Tree Fruit Association for my work on agricultural issues.

Listen to my recent local radio interviews 

During the interim when the Legislature is not in session, I call our local radio stations monthly to participate in live interviews about legislative issues. If you'd like to hear my most recent interviews, click on these links for KOHO and KOZI. I also joined the Don West Show recently to discuss sports, which was a fun thing to do following a busy session. I’m a big fan of the show. To listen to my KPQ interview with Don West, click here.

If you have any questions, please contact me anytime.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your 12th District state senator.



Brad Hawkins

State Senator Brad Hawkins
12th Legislative District


107 Newhouse Building - P.O. Box 40412 | Olympia, WA 98504-0412
(360) 786-7622 or Toll-free: (800) 562-6000