Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Washington State

Dropped in to see Eisenhower Fellow, Bill Warren next. He farms at Dayton in Washington State, producing apples, and grains on land operated with his brothers.
The apple harvest had just finished in his orchard, and the large producers in the area were finishing up as well. Frosting through the mid west production areas has meant the prices for apples are high, and crops in Washington are generally good.
Grains are produced on the steeply rolling country, again, the tractor size has to compensate for the slopes with a 500hp challenger pulling a case air seeder that was around 10mt wide. It would require a different skill set to operate machinery on those slopes, a full chaser bin would push a tractor around on slippery stubble, with disastrous consequences.
On the way both to and from Dayton, I dropped in to two separate packing facilities. The first was part of a large farming business, with links into Nevada and California allowing product to also be sourced from South America. Mike Massey, who is running the packing operation is one of the most dynamic people you would meet anywhere, and had accumulated much knowledge in his time in agriculture. People like this are essential to the future of farming, a reminder that career paths and options should be enhanced and communicated to a wider audience.
En route to Seattle I was fortunate to spend some time with Chris Monson. He has a very impressive family owned orchard and packing business, the main emphasis is on apples, however they also produce cherries. 65% of the through put is their own fruit, and they employ around 110 people per shift inside the packing sheds, and an additional 50 outside, working 2 shifts of 8 hours. When harvesting, there is an extra workforce of 250-300 pickers. These people are largely of Mexican origin, and the staff turnover is low.

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