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Ag Market News Agency To Close Fruit Price And Supply Information Service Will Shut Yakima Office July 1

Market News Service, the U.S. Agriculture Department agency that reports fruit and vegetable price and supply information, will close its Yakima office July 1 due to the lack of state funding.

Market News reports, the most comprehensive in the industry, include terminal markets, shipping points and reports on foreign produce. Agency reports on produce prices appear daily in newspapers around the country and are broadcast on some radio stations.

The state Department of Agriculture has paid $66,000 annually for the salary of one staff member, rent and other expenses at Market News offices in Yakima and Seattle.

“In lieu of having that money, we would need to close the Yakima office,” said Terry Long, Market News Service branch chief, from his Washington, D.C., office.

The status of the Seattle office, which processes livestock information, also is in jeopardy but a USDA official said the agency planned to try to keep it open.

That means there will be no more reports on apples, pears and other fruit crops, which have been put together in Yakima for the past 50 years.

Market News reports on honey will continue from another location because it is supported by the industry and many states contribute to the report, Long said. Reports on potatoes and onions likely will be generated from Idaho Falls, Idaho, he said.

The final blow to the Yakima office came last week when the state Senate version of the 1995-97 budget was released without any money for Market News. Elimination of state support first surfaced in Gov. Mike Lowry’s budget last December. The House version, like Lowry’s, deleted a two-year appropriation of $122,000.

No industry groups have complained or lobbied to save the program.

Mary Beth Lang, legislative coordinator for the state Agriculture Department, said the agency had been ordered to look for ways to cut general-fund dollars, and Market News became the victim of a budgetary choice.

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