Dairy farms, onion and potato fields, Claar Cellars and Syngenta's seed processing facility in Pasco were among Wednesday's stops for 10 Washington state legislators.
The Farmer for a Day event was meant to give legislators a chance to learn about Mid-Columbia agriculture outside of policy debates.
And that's vital since agriculture is the state's second-largest industry when it comes to dollars, said Rep. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla.
The event was organized by the Franklin County Farm Bureau, Washington State Potato Commission and Washington State Farm Bureau.
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At Coulee Flats Dairy near Mesa, a truck was pumping some of owner Case VanderMeulen's milk into a truck -- most likely to Darigold's plant in Sunnyside where it will be made into cheese.
VanderMeulen explained that his 4,800 cows produce enough milk to fill about five and a half tanker trucks a day.
"I'm not getting $3 a gallon if that is what you are thinking," he told the officials touring his milking parlor.
Water used to help cool the milk is reused in washing or as drinking water for the cows.
Dried manure is used as bedding and then composted into fertilizer to sell or to grow the feed.
"We are a lot better stewards of the land," he said.
Rep. Vincent Buys, R-Lynden, is a member of the agriculture and natural resources committee and grew up on a dairy in Whatcom County.
Still, as a third-year legislator, he said the tour gave him a chance to see Eastern Washington farming.
"I love the diversity of the agriculture here," he said.
Rep. Dick Muri, R-Steilacoom, said as a newbie to the Legislature, he hoped the farm tours would help give him some understanding of agriculture that he can draw on during the upcoming session.
He said he learned how fast cherries are cooled after they are picked.
And he was impressed with the integration at 5D Dairy in Franklin County. Some of what the cows eat would otherwise be waste, he said.
And Muri said he doesn't think enough people realize that Darigold is owned by Northwest Dairy Association, a farmer-owned co-op.
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-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org