WSDA's Small Farm and Direct Marketing program

January 30, 2001

Senator Marilyn Rasmussen, Chair
Washington State Agriculture Committee
409 Legislative Building
PO Box 40402
Olympia, Washington 98504-0402

Dear Senator Rasmussen,

I'm writing this letter on behalf of PCC Natural Markets and our 40,000 member households. PCC has seven stores in the Puget Sound area and is the largest cooperative retailer of natural and organic foods in the United States. We strongly support Bill #56-13 and the Small Farm and Direct Marketing program.

As a consumer-owned co-op with strong ties to many small farms, we believe small farms would benefit from the assistance described in this bill. It would address imbalances in current rules and encourage scale-appropriate regulations. It would help develop the infrastructure needed to support market access for small farms. It would assist farmers in developing value-added products. It would promote localized, more secure food systems.

Direct marketing promises far higher economic returns to farmers. In 1998, the average price received by a Washington state apple grower was $.12 per pound. This compares to a typical selling price of $.69-$1.00 per pound an apple grower received at a farmers market. Although direct marketing provides a greater share of the retail dollar for farms, only a small percentage of the state's agricultural production follows this route.

Our shoppers want to know where they food comes from and they want a fair exchange with those who provide it. Our members also want small farms to remain in our local landscape, preserving a way of life as a viable aspiration for American youth.

Please support Bill #56-13, the Direct Marketing Assistance Program.

Thank you,

Randy Lee, Acting Co-CEO

cc: Sen. Pat Thibaudeau

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