Support Us in Agricultural Reform

Chelan Ranch Labor Crew

Please support us for agricultural reform. At Chelan Ranch, we are facing unprecedented challenges that threaten the future of our organic farming operations. We recently wrote a letter to Senator Patty Murray, highlighting the critical issues we face and the urgent need for agricultural reform.

We want to share this letter with our community to raise awareness and garner support for agricultural reform.

Letter to Senator Murray

The Honorable Patty Murray
United States Senate
154 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Murray,

I am writing to express the urgent need for agricultural advocacy in our public policy-making, as we are currently facing a farming crisis. My family and I grow organic apples, cherries, and blueberries on a small farm in Chelan, WA. Most of our fruit is packed and sold through warehouses, Stemilt and Columbia Fruit Packers, with a small portion sold directly to consumers through online sales (, our local farm stand (Chelan Ranch Organics Farm Stand), and the Chelan farmers’ market. Since 1994, we have been dedicated to organic farming (Diamondback Acres, Inc.), navigating many ups and downs with optimism about the future. However, this year is different.

Ag costs & labor

After 30 years of organic farming, we no longer feel optimistic about next year. Labor costs have consistently risen yearly for a total of $4.22 over the past five years for an average of $0.84 per year. Looking ahead to next year, we anticipate the H2A wage will increase again to at least $20.09. Additionally, other production costs have increased at the same inflationary rate as other goods in America, yet the price of our organic fruit has remained stagnant for a decade.

The information below comes from the Washington State Tree Fruit Association on May 22, 2024. The average wholesale price of organic Honeycrisp by each year.

Yearly Wholesale Price of Organic Honeycrisp Apples

The asterisk references our incomplete sale year with the year-to-date price. In the current market conditions, the price is likely to go down. The average price of organic Honeycrisp has worked out to $68.00 over the past 10 years, excluding the current year.

Guest Worker Program

Despite our efforts to stay progressive with newer orchard designs, varieties, direct sales, and agritourism, the current economic conditions are not sustainable. Our organic crops are highly labor-dependent. We anticipated the labor shortage years ago by adopting the H2A guest worker program in 2018. Like other growers using H2A, we have found the program very expensive. We actively recruit local workers 60 days before we bring in our guest workers. We provide transportation and housing for all H2A employees. Our local and H2A farmworkers are covered by worker’s compensation, unemployment insurance, overtime, sick leave, anti-discrimination laws, rest and meal breaks, and the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

Agricultural Advocate Needed

We need an agricultural advocate in public policy-making to address these issues. The price of our fruit needs to catch up with the cost of doing business. If this trend continues, many of us will be forced out of business before lawmakers fully grasp the severity of the situation.

We urge you to consider the following agricultural reforms:

  1. Review and Adjust H2A Program Costs: Make the program more affordable for small to medium-sized farms. We cannot afford the yearly increased minimum wage, abundant benefits, and the WA state time-and-half overtime.
  2. Support for Fair Pricing: Develop initiatives to stabilize and increase market prices for organic produce to reflect actual production costs.
Future of Organic Farming

Addressing these critical issues can help secure the future of organic farming in Washington State. We remain committed to sustainable agriculture and producing healthy, organic fruit, but we need your support to continue our mission.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We look forward to your support and action on this urgent matter.

Sincerely, Angell Clark
Chelan Ranch
Chelan, WA

How You Can Help

We urge you to share this post and reach out to your legislators to support the necessary reforms to ensure the sustainability of organic farming. Your support is crucial in helping us continue to provide high-quality, organic fruit to our community.