What do you get when you add more than a dozen lawmakers, beautiful weather, an irrigated desert, policy wonks and the efforts of the Franklin County Farm Bureau, Washington State Potato Commission and Washington State Farm Bureau?
A successful "Farmer for a Day" program in Pasco.
As a new member of the Tri-City community I appreciated the opportunity to see first-hand how the local agriculture industry worked and learn more about its policy concerns.
The Tri-City Herald summarized the event:
Dairy farms, onion and potato fields, Claar Cellars and Syngenta's seed processing facility in Pasco were among Wednesday's stops for 10 Washington state legislators. The Farmer for a Day event was meant to give legislators a chance to learn about Mid-Columbia agriculture outside of policy debates.
Scott Dilley, Associate Director of Government Relations for the Washington State Farm Bureau, noted:
Our annual Farmer for a Day event demonstrates to legislators first-hand what farming is about. It highlights the diversity of crops grown in Washington state and what makes us a national leader in the production of so many commodities. The goal is to heighten awareness of agriculture and its substantial contributions to the state economy.
Among those elected officials or staff participating:
Sen. Sharon Brown, Rep. Larry Haler, Rep. Cindy Ryu, Rep. Brad Klippert, Rep. Chad Magendanz, Rep. Maureen Walsh and LA Marge Plumage, Rep. Dean Takko, Rep. Larry Springer, Rep. Susan Fagan, Rep. Dick Muri, Rep. Vincent Buys, Kyle Burleigh (LA to Sen. Steve Litzow), David Reeploeg (staff for U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell), Peter Godlewski (staff for U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings) and Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck.
Here is a group photo of mostly everyone (too many attended for the camera lens to capture all):
Colin Hastings, Executive Director of the Pasco Chamber of Commerce, commented on the importance of providing lawmakers the opportunity to be a farmer for a day:
This is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the significance of the agriculture industry not only to our area, but to the whole state. The legislators from Western Washington that participated showed a genuine interest learning more about agriculture and asking great questions. This will provide a great baseline of information on food production for our representatives in future sessions in Olympia.
Washington Policy Center’s long-term research plans include focusing more on some of the pressing issues facing the state’s agriculture industry.
First and foremost will be Todd Myers' (WPC Environment Center Director) review of I-522 (labeling of GMOs), a topic of some concern at the event.
Here are some of our thoughts to date on GMOs:
- Longtime Opponent of Biotech Crops Says Movement is "Anti-Science"
- Greens vs. Science: The 2012 Award for Most Thoughtless, Anti-Science Comment
Many thanks again to Dave Manterola and his family for hosting the "Farmer for a Day" event at his home and farm. Here is a picture of our gracious host addressing the prospective legislative farmers: