Washington State Department of Agriculture

Rick Bowmer / AP

The state Department of Agriculture says last year’s drought will cost farmers and ranchers dearly. The initial assessment of losses to the industry due to water shortages for 2015 is $336 million.

The agency has issued a report that will be updated exactly one year from its initial release date, which was on the last day of 2015. 

istockphoto.com

State officials are urging owners of backyard chicken to sign up their flock for bird flu testing.

The state is trying to prevent an outbreak of a new strain of bird flu like the one recently seen in China. At least 36 people have died of the disease since March.

Photo courtesy Mike Louisell / WSDA

The gypsy moth is considered to be the most destructive forest pest in the country. When they're caterpillars, they have a voracious appetite for almost any kind of tree or bush, and they can strip a tree bare overnight.

Gypsy moth caterpillars are capable of defoliating hundreds of thousands of acres of forest per year. This month, the Washington State Department of Agriculture is installing thousands of gypsy moth traps around the state.