Join us in investing in our future

By Andy Juris
President, Washington Association of Wheat Growers

wheat field

I’m fortunate to be old enough to have grown up in the age before cell phones, personal computers, the internet, social media and “Tic Tac,” or whatever they call it. My media entertainment was primarily relegated to the static-prone, antenna-received Northwest Public Broadcasting (NWPB) channel we had beamed in; Channel 31, I think it was. From NWPB I got to learn about science, math, the MacNeil/Lehrer Report and the Saturday night ritual of the Lawrence Welk Show (Google that one kids). Among all these shows, I remember watching one called “The Frugal Gourmet.” Maybe some of you remember it. Each week, I got to watch Jeff Smith make supposedly fancy food out of frozen vegetables, chicken gizzards and bone broth. Dad would always announce “Hey, the cheap cook is on.” Entertainment was obviously few and far between in Bickleton back in the 1980s, so The Frugal Gourmet it was!

A show like The Frugal Gourmet has a certain appeal to farmers, I think. For one, we all like food, better yet if it’s cheap … er, I mean frugal! Frugality is near and dear to our hearts; in a way, it must be as we have to risk so much every year. Risk demands we be frugal with what we have at our disposal. But many of us would be averse to being known as cheap! That’s a word more appropriate for that miser of a neighbor who won’t roll dice for coffee in town … we all know who that is. No, frugal connotates being careful, wise and discerning with what we have. A term much easier on the ego!

Another thing farmers are frugal with is time. The demands of our job are many, and time is a precious commodity. Farming is never done. There is always another mayday around the corner. Thus, we (and I mean myself) risk being cheap and overlooking things that are important, which brings me to Olympia Days.

Grandpa once told me “There are no free rides in farming,” and boy, was he right. And just as you can’t starve a profit out of a cow, we simply cannot starve ag-friendly legislation out of Olympia. When we ignore the political side of our industry, we will absolutely find ourselves, well, ignored as well! “Nothing I do will ever change things” is a mantra I’ve heard from many, including myself. The frustrations are understandable, but it’s simply not true. I’ve been amazed at the reception I’ve received from folks from both sides of the aisle. It’s always interesting to see what happens when people get together and talk about what’s important to them. I’ve left these meetings feeling great. I’ve also left feeling disappointed, but in every case, I’ve left feeling we have done our job and brought the issues you all feel passionately about to the attention of our leaders. It’s an excellent, economic, frugal investment of your precious time.  

So this year, I ask our membership to consider making an investment with me in engaging with our legislators in Olympia. Let’s together resist the temptation to be cheap with our time and invest a little in all of our futures. And like The Frugal Gourmet, make something good out of that small investment. Together, we can and will let our leaders know that Washington wheat growers care enough about the issues to meet with them, seek common ground, and find a way forward for all of us. So, I hope to see you all in Olympia with us on Jan. 22-24. Call the WAWG office at (509) 659-0610 for more information.

Whelp, I’ve gotta get out of here. Locals are starting to come into the café, and they’ll be pestering me to roll for coffee.