By MATTHEW WEAVER
Spokane Mayor David Condon has paid tribute to agriculture as a $587 million industry in the region by proclaiming Feb. 4-9 as Agricultural Week.
In his proclamation, Condon singled out "a group of future-oriented citizens" who organized the first board of trade and sponsored the first fruit fair in Spokane in May 1887.
"Since that time, the agriculture industry has played an important role in feeding our region and the world," Condon said.
Condon said he developed an appreciation for the industry and its cutting-edge technology and business skills in his seven years as a staff member for Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.
He's worked to convey to the city government and business community the magnitude of agriculture's economic impact on local banks and the city.
"Leadership of City Hall is honored and humbled to have you in our city continue to choose us to hold your annual event," Condon said.
"Every edible product you would find in a grocery store and many of the non-edible items start with a basic agricultural crop," Jeff Philipps, chair of the board of trustees for Great Spokane Inc., which is the city's chamber of commerce and economic development council, said. He is also president and CEO of Rosauers Supermarkets.
Philipps said it's easy to see the impact of agriculture on his grocery stores and the daily lives of people.
"Grocery stores simply collect all those finished goods and then we make it easy for you to do your shopping in one easy location," he said. "We make a very complex farmer situation into a very simple process for the consumer."
Jay Allert, chair of the AgriBusiness Council for Greater Spokane Inc., said the world will continue to rely on the ingenuity of the agriculture industry as the global population reaches toward 9 billion people.
Allert said he expected more than 5,000 attendees and more than 250 exhibitors at the Spokane Ag Expo, which opened Feb. 5.
"We think we really have a resurgence of awareness out there," Allert said. "Everyone is realizing food and agriculture is important to them, and they should take a interest. We're thrilled with that."