Washington State’s Agriculture and Food Processing Industry

With 35,900 farms and 15 million acres of farmland, Washington State is known all over the world for its agricultural products and food production capabilities.  Washington’s agriculture industry ranks 2nd in the nation producing 300 different crops.

Washington is a leading producer of numerous fruit and vegetable crops, making our state a key supplier of food for domestic and export markets.  Our growers feed people across the U.S. and around the world. The agriculture and food manufacturing industry is a cornerstone of Washington’s economy in both rural communities and metropolitan areas.

Diverse geography, varied microclimates, low-cost energy and close proximity to major markets via land, sea and air, makes Washington a smart choice for value-added agriculture and food manufacturing firms.  Prime growing and production
environments allow for businesses to expand, grow, and prosper here.

Washington is home to a large food processing industry that supports many supply and marketing services in machinery,
pesticides and fertilizers, transportation, packaging and more.  The quality and safety of Washington’s agricultural products
continue to raise the State’s reputation around the world.

Agriculture and food and beverage production supports an estimated 164,000 jobs in Washington and accounts for approximately $20.1 billion in revenue.  The State is the leading producer of apples, sweet cherries, concord grapes, hops, pears, red raspberries, and spearmint and peppermint oils, which are shipped around the globe to customers who appreciate their quality, flavor, and value.  Washington is also a leader in seafood production, second only to Alaska in shipments of fish and shellfish.

Exporting Opportunities

Washington State is equidistant from Europe and Asia, connected by 75 public ports, 139 airports and 3,666 miles of railways, ensuring that your crops and food and beverage products arrive at their destination quickly and in good order.

About two-thirds of all Washington agricultural exports are destined for Asia.  Ships can arrive up to two days sooner in key ports such as Tokyo and Busan.  Airfreight can arrive in Beijing in less than 15 hours.  Japan, Canada, China/Hong Kong, Philippines, and the Korean Republic are the top five markets for Washington agricultural exports.

To promote production and trade of value-added agriculture and food manufacturing products, the state offers an array of
incentives to companies who wish to do business in and with Washington State, including tax exemptions and deductions for manufacturers of fresh fruit and vegetable crops. Plus, the state doesn’t have a corporate or personal income tax, making it an attractive place to open new factories and production facilities.

See why the Tri-Cities is Fresher, Faster, and Bolder!


Washington Agriculture Economic Facts

Tri-Cities, Washington – The ideal location for food and beverage manufacturing facilities

The Tri-Cities anchor the region’s economy in agribusiness, food processing, specialized services, production technology, government, and healthcare. Successful Agribusinesses include ConAgra Foods, AgriNorthwest, Broetje Orchards, Tyson Foods, Reser’s, Columbia Crest Winery and many others.

The Tri-Cities MSA is especially attractive to successful, expanding companies looking to locate branch operations and develop new facilities. Since the Tri-Cities is the regional capitol for variety, freshness and quality in agriculture commodity and specialty crops/value-added processing, existing companies thrive here, and newcomers will benefit and prosper in the robust business environment.

Excellent Transportation

The Tri-Cities is a transportation center providing unmatched access to interstate highways, service by two national mainline railroads, commercial barge transportation, and air service from four domestic airlines. The state’s deep-water ports and proximity to important Asian markets are important advantages for agricultural trade.

Highway Access

The Tri-Cities is centrally located and linked to the major population centers of the Pacific Northwest, Northern California and Western Canada.


Mileage from
Tri-Cities, WA

Travel Time*

Spokane, WA

136 Miles

2 Hours, 15 Minutes

Portland, OR

218 Miles

3 Hours, 40 Minutes

Seattle, WA

225 Miles

3 Hours, 45 Minutes

Boise, ID

293 Miles

4 Hours, 50 Minutes

Vancouver, BC

356 Miles

5 Hours, 50 Minutes

Calgary, AB

567 Miles

9 Hours, 25 Minutes

Salt Lake City, UT

627 Miles

10 Hours, 30 Minutes

Sacramento, CA

677 Miles

11 Hours, 20 Minutes

Billings, MT

678 Miles

11 Hours, 20 Minutes

San Francisco, CA

740 Miles

12 Hours, 20 Minutes

Los Angeles, CA

1,070 Miles

17 Hours, 50 Minutes

Minneapolis, MN

1,515 Miles

25 Hours, 15 Minutes

* Based on Semi-Trucks traveling at 60 MPH

Rail Service

The economy of the Tri-Cities is supported by a strong rail infrastructure providing businesses, ports and farms with competitive access to North American and international markets.  Mainline rail freight service is provided by both the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) and Union Pacific (UP) Railroads. Direct access and dual service from these Class I national carriers is very unique.

Air Transportation

The Tri-Cities Airport, owned and operated by the Port of Pasco, ranks fourth in passenger boarding among Washington airports.  It is served by Alaska Airlines/Horizon Air, Allegiant Air, Delta Connection/SkyWest, and United Express/SkyWest.  Direct daily flights serve San Francisco, CA; Denver, CO; Minneapolis, MN; Portland, OR; Salt Lake City, UT; and Seattle, WA.  Less than daily service is available to Mesa/Phoenix, AZ; Los Angeles, CA; and Las Vegas, NV.

For more flight information visit www.FlyTriCities.com

National Production Ranking of Washington Products

Agriculture thrives on the rich soils, diverse microclimates and large-scale irrigation systems in the region.  Processors are surrounded by one of the most productive growing regions in the world, choosing from some 300 crops each year.  Locally available raw materials mean a trustworthy supply, lower costs, and fresher materials.


The Tri-Cities area has over 175 food and beverage manufacturers, ranging from ConAgra and Tyson Foods with 1,000+ employees each, to family-run wineries and microbreweries. Recent additions and expansions by many of these firms illustrate the attractiveness and effectiveness of a Tri-Cities location for food and agricultural processing.

SIC Code

Occupation Title


Mean Hourly Wage

Annual Mean Wage


Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products





Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samples and Weighers





Industrial Machinery Mechanics





First-Line Supervisors of Production and Operating Workers





Laborers and Freight, Stock, and Material Movers, Hand





Packers and Packagers, Hand





Packaging and Filling Machine Operators and Tenders




Fresher, Faster, Bolder Tri-Cities!

The food and beverage manufacturing sector benefits from the unique business advantages and other conditions found in the Tri-Cities, including:

Selected business costs over 24% below typical or national average costs.

Projected costs for personnel, land, construction, energy, utilities, and certain other expenses of operating a food processing plant in the Tri-Cities compare favorably to the US and West Coast.

A very competitive cost of living.

The Tri-Cities is one of two metropolitan areas in Washington and Oregon with a cost of living index below the national average.  A study of business taxes imposed by selected states and communities across the U.S. show a Washington location to rank eleventh least expensive.

Outstanding infrastructure for food and agricultural industrial activities.

Both private and publicly-owned industrial parks are designed to support agricultural processing.  Some are pre-permitted and have specialized wastewater treatment and disposal systems.  Technical support is available from Washington State University, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, commodity groups and industry associations.

Excellent schools and colleges.

Washington State University, a global leader in food and agriculture R&D, has numerous programs to assist processors in the state.  Columbia Basin College is known for their agriculture, horticulture, and food system programs.

A quality of life that supports transfer and recruitment of employees from other locations.

The Tri-Cities is a remarkably sophisticated smaller metro area.  The citizens of Benton County are among the best educated in the nation, with over 41% of its adult population holding bachelor’s or graduate degrees.

A highly appealing natural setting.

The Tri-Cities enjoys about 300 sunny days per year.  Snow run-off feeds the Columbia, Snake and Yakima rivers. The local terrain ranges from about 400 feet above sea level in the river valleys to nearly 4,000 feet atop local mountains.

Grow Your Business in the Tri-Cities

If you are considering relocating or expanding your business, let TRIDEC help you put together the information you need.

  • Create a personalized overview of the region.
  • Provide data on key business factors.
  • Evaluate the available workforce and connect you to resources that will make hiring, interviewing, screening, and training your new workforce easier.
  • Initiate real estate searches.
  • Assist in evaluating incentives.
  • Coordinate site selection trips and customized visits.
  • Organize strategic meetings to make your visit a one-stop collaborative effort with key business leaders, government and community officials.