Ensuring Our Family Farms Continue to Feed the World with the Help of Natural Gas

Hands cut mint leaves on farm

The Washington Farm Bureau is the state’s largest general agricultural organization representing 47,000 members and the more than 300 commodities grown here. Agriculture is the state’s second largest industry.

Farmers rely on affordable natural gas and should be able to choose the energy source that best meets their needs. In most circumstances, a forced reliance on a fully electric system will not work and will drive farm operations out of state or out of business.

Poultry farmers rely on natural gas to heat chicken houses. An electrical outage during the winter would result in the death of millions of chickens if natural gas were no longer an option. Natural gas provides efficient, reliable heating that can operate even during a power outage with the assistance of a small generator.

Washington farmers grow a tremendous amount of mint. Much of it is distilled on site into oil which is then sold to food production companies. Farmers operate on a low profit margin. Requiring these farmers to switch from natural gas to electric distilling equipment will drive these farm operations out of the state due to the unsustainable cost increases.

The agricultural industry cannot switch to technologies that don’t exist, that aren’t commercially proven or that are known to be more expensive. The bottom line is critical to the men and women who grow and raise the food each of us relies on. When production costs exceed what a farmer can sell their crop for, land is often sold for development. When that happens, carbon emissions increase and carbon sequestration decreases.

Washington farmers want a clean energy future and natural gas, and new technologies such as renewable natural gas and green hydrogen, are part of that future. We need energy choices to continue to feed our communities and support our natural environment.

By Tom Davis, Director of Government Relations for the Washington Farm Bureau