LYNDEN, Wash. — In his second term at the state House of Representatives, Vincent Buys has been chosen as ranking Republican on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
The 34-year-old small business owner will replace 15-year veteran Rep. Bruce Chandler. Chandler, who owns and operates an commercial fruit orchard near Granger, will be ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, acting as the chief operating budget negotiator for the House GOP caucus.
Buys grew up on a dairy near Lynden and worked around cows through high school. His father also analyzed milk, feed and soil for about 100 dairies, and Buys gathered samples at the farms and worked in the lab. He also worked raspberries in the summers.
“I loved the field work,” he said, “but the cows were a little obnoxious.”
He’s now a general contractor in construction and is involved with Starfish Ministries, an organization that provides assistance to people in Haiti through schools, feeding programs and well drilling in impoverished communities to bring them clean water.
Where Chandler was known for his work and expertise in water issues, Buys said his own strength is his dairy background.
“I’m not the main expert on anything,” he said. “Others on the ag committee have experience in cattle and ranching, on invasive species, timber and forestry. I want to create a team aspect.”
Committee Chairman Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, brings “a common sense approach” to his leadership, listening to the real-world experience of the committee members, Buys said.
“We know we have to take care of land and animals to make agriculture work,” he said.
“None of the issues we are called to evaluate in this committee are unimportant or impersonal. The people ... who elected me are farmers, ranchers, miners and citizens. These issues we examine impact people whose children play in our parks and depend on access to water.”
Because Buys’ district is home to a variety of agricultural crops and livestock operations, Deputy House Republican Leader Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, said, “No matter what challenges we face with new and stricter environmental regulations and government bureaucracy, Vincent will fight for our farmers, ranchers, orchardists and agriculture-reliant communities.”
Though the upcoming short legislative session, which runs 60 days starting Jan. 13, will have a limited agenda, Buys said the committee will work on a water bill and lay the groundwork for considering renewal of the Columbia Basin River Treaty.
“That will affect generations, and we have to make sure we get it right over the next couple of years.
New bills can be introduced in the short session and policy bills related to higher education may be considered. However, it is not the main budget session, but rather, a time for legislators to adjust and revise the already approved state budget to align with state priorities and assets.