Last updated 8/23/2018 at Noon
There’s so much to do during harvest that my legislator duties naturally shift to the back burner.
But sometimes farming and being a state senator simply have to overlap, and that’s when the cab of a combine can be a pretty good place to meet and visit, like this past week, when Japan’s consul general for our region came to town.
Consul General Yoichiro Yamada had arrived at his new posting in Seattle last summer, coming from his nation’s embassy in Belgium, and following other postings in Russia, Poland, New York and Kenya.
Knowing our state’s many ties to Japan, he is very interested in learning more about Washington.
Senator Judy Warnick of Moses Lake, where Japanese companies do flight testing, and I invited him more than once to come east of the Cascades. And in turn, he’d invited me to his home more than once.
Those visits didn’t happen in 2017, but Consul General Yamada did help facilitate the trade-related tour that Senator Warnick and I and others from the area took to Japan this past fall.
Also, we had the pleasure of hosting him in February at the state Capitol, during this year’s legislative session.
When I found out the consul general was interested in coming over to see this year’s wheat harvest in action, a group of local folks stepped forward to help make his time in Ritzville even better.
David Baumann and Chad Hoeft, representing the Adams County Development Council, met Consul General Yamada and his nine-year-old son Kazuhiro when they arrived and presented them with local gifts. Gift giving is an important part of Japanese culture.
Then it was out to my farm for a long ride-along in the combine.
Although the haze from fires near and far kept the fields from looking picture-perfect, it was still a record day for cutting wheat, the largest yield from a single field I’ve seen in all my years of farming!
The following day began with stops at the Dr. Frank R. Burroughs Home Museum, built in 1889, Washington’s statehood year, and an introduction to Ritzville’s “heavy metal tour”, the metal sculptures by local artists.
The visit swung back to wheat at Ritzville Warehouse, our local grain co-op, with a meeting with CEO Brian Gordon and a tour of the company’s Templin shuttle-loading terminal at the rail line on the edge of town.
I got to see the Yamadas once more when they came out to my folks’ place that day for one of Mrs. Schoesler’s great harvest lunches.
Their time in Ritzville concluded with a private tour of the Lasting Legacy Wildlife Museum with owners Don and Sandy Sebesta, where Adams County Commissioner John Marshall joined them.
Besides a memorable time with his son, I’d say we gave Consul General Yamada a good sense of what life is like on a wheat farm and in a close-knit rural community, as well as a better understanding of how wheat and other commodities from here get to markets like Japan.
Judging from the smiles in the photos, they had a great experience.
I still look forward to visiting the consul general’s home, but in the short term my focus is on harvest.
If you see me at the Benton Franklin Fair this next week you’ll know we got everything wrapped up.