AgriBusiness Council continues to evolve

Greater Spokane Incorporated CEO Todd Mielke and AgriBusiness Council chairman Jay Allert talk about their organization's priorities for agriculture. The organizations produce the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.

Greater Spokane Incorporated is coming off a “transformational” year and will continue to evolve as it speaks for regional agriculture, the leader of the organization’s AgriBusiness Council says.

Council chairman Jay Allert welcomed the arrival of Todd Mielke, GSI’s chief executive officer, who will help advocate for agriculture in Olympia and Washington, D.C.

“That’s very encouraging, rewarding and good for the industry,” Allert said.

The AgriBusiness Council falls under the GSI umbrella. Mielke joined GSI in February 2016.

Mielke told the Capital Press that GSI’s priorities included helping local businesses find applicants for jobs; keeping the public aware of agriculture’s innovations, challenges and opportunities; and addressing increased local regulations.

“We’re dealing with commodities that have worldwide competition, and the slightest amount of regulation that puts them at a competitive disadvantage has extreme ramifications with their ability to compete and be profitable,” Mielke said.

Allert pointed to What’s Upstream billboards funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, which incorrectly condemned agriculture as polluters, as a reason agriculture has to be involved in the process.

“We can’t ever let up, obviously,” he said.

Far West Agribusiness Association executive director Jim Fitzgerald is taking on some of the duties of longtime agriculture advocate Jack Silzel, who represents the agribusiness council on the chamber’s public policy committee.

They are “two great, great resources for agriculture to be representing us,” Allert said.

The Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum remains the organization’s “Cadillac” for showcasing the industry, Allert said.

Allert hopes even more people become involved, building on existing efforts.

“AgriBusiness Council has evolved, and has been evolving for several years,” Allert said. “We have a great position of representing the industry with Washington’s second-largest business organization, so we’re thrilled about that.”

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