Bruce King's no fool. He knows damn well that there's a lot more money to be had from harvesting dope than bringing pigs to market. For the past seven years, the Snohomish River Valley farmer has been a making a pretty good living raising pigs on some 80 acres on Ebey Island, land adjacent to the U.S. 2 trestle.
Now, King wants to capitalize on the state's recently-approved initiative to legalize recreational pot. "There's huge money in this," says King, "and every single farmer I've talked to is thinking about it."
King expects that in the neighborhood of 10,000 potential pot purveyors will plunk down $250, the state application fee for each producer license.
Regulated by the state's Liquor Control Board, the new system will license marijuana producers, processors and retailers, with the first stores to open in 2014.
The Everett Herald, which wrote about King on Wednesday, reports that the Liquor Control Board has been getting numerous calls from people interested in growing weed for sale.
After ten years at Microsoft teaching people how to program on Windows, the 49-year-old King got into the pig-raising business around seven years ago. The idea of making a marijuana his chief cash crop is not a lark. King's been doing some serious numbers crunching -- and, my oh my, does it ever pencil out.
"It cost about $500 an acre to plant marijuana, and sure, it will involve a lot of fertilization and irrigation, and so on. But I'm figuring on $60,000 per acre net return," enthuses King, who has his own website, www.bigpig.net.
"I mean, it takes $5,000 to plant an acre of raspberries, and you don't even get a crop for a year," adds King. "Even if you screw up, it would still be as good or better than [the profit derived] an acre of alfalfa, which is pretty profitable crop."
King predicts the pot prices will take a dramatic nosedive next years, falling from $200 to $300 a pound, compared to around $3,000 today -- and that's because of the glut of new producers who will be bringing it on the market.
With a chuckle, King admits he's never smoked marijuana.
"But you don't need to like Brussels sprouts to grow Brussels sprouts."