Articles by Guest Contributor

Tractor cultivating field at spring

From heat domes to supply chain woes, state agriculture weathers a challenging year

By Derek Sandison When it comes to growing food, it all starts with the weather. No doubt, the weather is having a substantial impact on agriculture of late. In 2021, the lack of spring rains and low soil moisture resulted in difficult growing conditions for dryland agriculture, leading to a reduction in wheat yields of…

The Burn of Columbia Valley is one of three new American Viticultural Areas approved in Washington in 2021. There are now 19 AVAs in Washington.(Courtesy Ste. Michelle Wine Estates)

Grape growers face a future altered by Covid, weather, smoke

By Mary Coffman Like all agricultural producers in the state, Washington’s wine grape growers have faced myriad challenges since the onset of the pandemic. Tasting room closures, hot temperatures, wildfires, inflation. “It won’t go back to what the market looked like prior to Covid,” said Vicky Scharlau, executive director of the Washington Wine Growers Association.…

Courtesy Washington State Potato Commission

Pasco farmer says U.S. potato industry is focused on the future

By Jared Balcom Despite all the changes the nation has experienced over the two-plus years of this pandemic, the U.S. potato industry remains as committed as ever to fighting for federal policies that protect our businesses, our families and the communities we support.  Years ago, when I first attended the potato industry’s leadership development course…

Reagan Grabner raises potatoes for chips and french fries and for the fresh market at CSS Farms near Pasco. Grabner, who grew up on a wheat farm, said he chose potatoes because he liked the idea of growing a product “that was more than a commodity.” (Courtesy Pam Lewison)

Passion for spuds keeps grower in business

By Pam Lewison For some farmers, growing potatoes is about a passion for growing things and connecting with consumers. Reagan Grabner, of CSS Farms, is one of those farmers. His family is one of the more than 300 families who make up Washington state’s potato growers. “I was raised on a wheat farm and had…

When the bines are stripped of the cones, the leaves come off as well. The hops and leaves are processed through a number of belts, where gravity separates them, ensuring bales are packed with hops.  (Courtesy Hop Growers of America)

Craft beer drives thirst for hops

By Mary Coffman More than 84.6 million pounds of hops were grown in Washington in 2021, a 14.1% increase over 2020. “We were all kind of surprised to see a record crop last year, after the spring heat dome, which hit when the vines were vulnerable,” said Maggie Elliot, science and communications director for the…


FutureCast data dashboard will help us create the Washington we want

It’s hard to prepare for the future if you’re only checking the rearview mirror. That’s why the AWB Institute has launched a new tool called FutureCast to provide employers, policymakers and community leaders with a forward-looking view of how growth is likely to affect Washington state and every community within it. The pandemic has changed…


Just-in-time manufacturing is another pandemic casualty

Before the Covid-19 pandemic rocked the world, factory workers were humming along assembling products just after components were delivered. It was called “just-in-time” production. It was efficient, predictable and cost effective. Today, companies scramble just to find parts, lock in purchases (and hopefully prices) and work around estimated delivery schedules. It is a different world.…


Tips to consider when selling the family business to children

Parents who have built a successful business and have raised capable children might find the proposition of selling the family business to the children compelling. As with so many decisions in life, this proposition comes with pros and cons, but properly structuring the transaction is always vital. At the outset, the parents must take a…


Tri-City manufacturing sector has a distinct flavor

Manufacturing in the two counties didn’t shine during the pandemic. According to recent work the Institute undertook for the Port of Kennewick, the most positive employment changes during the “shutdown quarter,” Q2 of 2020, were found in the following sectors: finance and insurance, transportation and warehousing, information, wholesale trade and retail. Yet, manufacturing didn’t lose…


Survey shows inflation tops a long list of employer challenges in 2022

The soaring inflation rate has turned trips to the gas station, grocery store, shopping mall and restaurants into nerve-wracking experiences. Not to mention buying a used car or a sheet of plywood. But it isn’t just wreaking havoc on family budgets — inflation is setting off alarm bells for businesses, too. In a recent survey…

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