Alex McGregor at Tri-State Grain

Alex McGregor at Tri-State Grain

Alex McGregor spoke to attendees at the Tri State Grain Growers Convention earlier in November. If you missed it, below is what you would have heard.

Please join us in helping with one more push for action to pass the USMCA! Contact your Rep Results are needed! #USMCA

"We’re proud to be serving the needs of the finest people we know—the farm families of the Inland Northwest. My cousin, Bill, who ran our wheat and livestock ranch for many years, once told me that pioneers came to this plateau with traits that helped them survive—among them unquenchable optimism and a tenacity verging on stubbornness—traits he said were useful then, are useful now, and will be useful in the future. Though the world of agricultural supply—from chemical and fertilizer manufacturers and retailers to other trades-- is now increasingly national or international in scale—we’re proud of our local roots dating back well over a century since my family first ‘broke’ their prairie with foot burner walking plows and horse and mule teams.

Tenacity verging on stubbornness and a determination to help those we serve have better days ahead run deeply with us. Through good times and tougher ones we invest what we earn, including ongoing support for research—a tradition dating back seventy years since my dad was a fertilizer industry pioneer, working closely with our three land grant schools and trying out for size new ideas and new products years before they are commercially available. If they show promise we try them out in trials from the Horse Heaven to the foothills of the mountains that surround us. It doesn’t pass muster with us to hear of chemistry that works in the Great Plains. If seed, nutrients or herbicides produce results in Northwest farm fields we’re all in. If not, we won’t handle them. We also invest, year after year, to provide our agronomy and service personnel the facilities, the equipment, whatever we can do that will help them make a difference for you.

While we also have a strong focus on precision and new technology, our biggest strength has always been dedicated people—boots on the ground. More than thirty of us Baby Boomers have been on board three decades or more. I’m excited about the talented young people who have joined us –they’ve got dedication, much more talent than I had when I was a wet-behind-the ears service tech so many years ago. Not easy to find but we go all out and find them we do. My son, Ian, now twenty years on board and our president is one of them but our ranks are filled with skilled people at all levels. The training in agronomy, information systems, safe product handling and ever more complex regulations is far more extensive than what we seasoned old salts got—which seem in hindsight to have been a couple of trips to the field riding with someone experienced and then you’re on your own--fill the truck, head for the field and call on the radio if you get lost.

I remember the first time I testified before Congress 35 years ago—when the only thing higher than the piles of surplus grain were interest rates that pushed 20%. My passion for speaking out for farm families overcame my anxiety, if only barely. I learned going through the chairs at Washington Wheat how much clout you could have if you stood your ground and told the positive story of the remarkable people who make their living on the land. These days I spend most of my time speaking out on issues that matter—trade, dams, misguided regulations and educating legislators here at home and in the other Washington. It’s something your leaders of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon wheat do every day and I salute their efforts and achievements. We believe that those of us who serve farm families need to stand up and lend whatever clout we can muster on behalf of the industry that supports us. Not many do—yes, it’s hard to find the time—but we take that responsibility seriously. I’ve never been busier.

Thanks to the hard work of so many of you, we’ve got an agreement putting our trade with Japan on more solid footing—a good start toward rebuilding relationships and finding new ones. It was rewarding to help a bit where I could—on a trade mission to Tokyo, as a speaker on a panel with trade ministers of Japan and Canada, and a meeting at the Canadian Embassy in DC with trade leaders from that country and Mexico. Earlier this week I chaired another meeting of the Rural Jobs Task Force, dedicated to bring to agencies, educators and business the task of working together to train and recruit future agricultural and rural employees. In a couple of weeks I’ll be racking up more frequent flier miles on another visit to DC to push for USMCA and to visit embassies of other current and future customers for the crops we raise. Toss in a few speeches a month on agricultural issues and it’s enough to keep me scrambling. Some real progress on a practical test to give ‘in field’ and ‘at the elevator’ testing for falling numbers. I’m no scientist but I’m doing whatever I can to stay in touch and encourage further progress on an issue so harmful three years ago to ensure we’re less vulnerable in the future.

Not that big of a deal compared to the hard work of our volunteer leaders of our three state associations and commissions and their outstanding staffs. Two points I’d like to leave you with: we’re all in this together and the more we can all pitch in and help, the better. We also need to urge those who serve our farms—from accountants, to insurance agents, to implement dealers, to those who supply us with seed and essential nutrients to step up and help us fight the good fight and win the battle and every skirmish we can. Of value any time but none more than when the farm economy is struggling. We’ve got a great story to tell and a lot of educating to do.
We’ve left two letters in support of USMCA at the registration booth I hope you’ll consider signing—one we wrote for all Northwest members of the House of Representatives, another by Washington State Representative Mary Dye to the President, the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader of the Senate. In a conference call yesterday with White House and trade leaders we heard an urgent call for action now. Please join us in helping with one more push for action to bring results that are so badly needed.

As a business our commitment to helping in the field with people passionate about making a difference on your farm has never been stronger. As a family enterprise serving farm families we’re all in—your success as wheat growers is vital to our rural communities, vital to our regional economy, and vital to all of us who serve you. My three hundred teammates in more than three dozen towns are proud to be trusted partners helping any way we can in support of the finest people we know—the remarkable farm families of the Inland Northwest. With optimism and a tenacity verging on stubbornness, together we’ll win the day." - Alex McGregor