Last week ended with great weather and a great trip to tour agriculture in the Columbia Basin. Thanks so much to Karen Lewis and the broader Columbia Basin ag team in Extension for planning the day. While we missed Andy McGuire’s participation on the trip itself, his presentation earlier in the week helped us better understand the region’s water history and its importance in making possible the agriculture and associated industries we visited. It is so important to visualize an area in order to best imagine the possibilities and challenges.
The scale and scope of agriculture in the Columbia Basin is impressive. I felt like I was back in California. The primary difference is the Columbia Basin’s ability to expand its role in global food security due to water availability and having many of California’s advantages (infrastructure, climate). How food production scales in the Columbia Basin is key to the food security pillar of a resilient Washington, and critical and influential to the remaining pillars (community health, workforce preparedness and availability, and natural resource stewardship). I look forward to continuing the conversation in an upcoming meeting in Othello, and perhaps during some personal visits over the summer to explore some of the tour stops in a bit more depth.
This week I am in Washington, D.C., meeting with our federal partners, including House and Senate staff and the USDA Agricultural Research Service leadership team. Scot Hulbert, Dori Borjesson, and Director Sandison from the Washington State Department of Agriculture are part of the trip as well. Our primary purpose is to discuss our priorities for the Farm Bill and thank our partners for their support and commitment to our mission.
As the semester winds down, we are already thinking ahead. I’ll meet with the Animal Food Systems–Integrated Plant Systems team during their planning retreat to talk about how to best meet student and employer needs of the future. Anderson Hay is in town this week to learn about our work, our facilities, and opportunities to partner. I attend my first ADVANCE meeting this week to learn and brainstorm how we can best ensure a faculty-friendly environment at WSU.
I suspect Pullman will empty out a bit before the week’s end. We have a good turnout planned for the CAHNRS commencement and following reception. If you are in town, be sure to stop by the reception and congratulate our graduates and their families! I don’t know that I have ever shaken 400 hands in a single day before, but I am eager to be part of the excitement.