CALDWELL, Idaho — State and local elected officials, along with members of the media, got a close-up look at many facets of agriculture in southwestern Idaho Sept. 6 during a day-long tour of farm country.
The event included a hop industry tour, stops at onion- and fruit-processing facilities, an update on the state’s fast-growing wine industry during lunch at a vineyard, and a visit to a seed company.
The several dozen participants were also briefed on how important irrigation delivery and the region’s reservoir system is to the Treasure Valley by the Boise River watermaster.
While being transported to each stop on a tour bus, ag industry leaders spoke more about the different crops grown in the valley.
The event was organized by the Nampa-Caldwell Agribusiness Committee, a subcommittee of the Nampa and Caldwell chambers of commerce.
Agricultural consultant Roger Batt, who coordinated the tour, said it was meant to give key people in the community a better understanding of the diversity of agricultural activities in the valley, which produces more than 100 crops and is home to numerous processing facilities and agribusinesses.
“All the stops we’ve made today were fortunately during harvest time so we were able to showcase the various industries and the amount of not only capital, but labor it takes to get a finished product,” Batt said. “A lot of folks don’t really understand the processes behind food production and what it takes to actually produce the food that we have and we wanted to showcase that.”
The tour included 10 state legislators, two county commissioners, six city council members, five members of the media and other community and state leaders.
“We go to legislators with a lot of different (issues) so it’s really important for them to understand what we have out here,” Batt said.
Sen. Jeff Agenbroad, R-Nampa, has been on these types of tours before but he said he always learns something valuable from them.
“This just allows us to (better) understand what’s going on in regard to agriculture,” he said. “I can’t think of a tour where I didn’t learn a fair amount.”
Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, chairman of the Senate Agricultural Affairs Committee, said it’s important for all legislators, not just members of the ag committee, to experience the farming industry up close and personal.
“We make a lot of decisions that impact agriculture and they aren’t frequently things that come through the agriculture committee,” he said. “These types of tours help raise awareness of the issues (facing agriculture) with legislators.”
Rice said it was nice to see local media on the tour “because how often do they really get a look at how agriculture works in this area? That’s important.”
Agribusiness committee member Darrell Bolz, a former legislator, said if participants remember only thing from the tour, “I want them to think more in terms about what the economic impact of agriculture is and what it means not only to Canyon County, but to the state of Idaho.”