The University of Idaho Food and Agriculture Business club (FAB) held a forum with gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Tommy Ahlquist in the auditorium of the UI Administration Building Saturday.
With scattered UI students and Moscow community members in attendance, Ahlquist and Little answered questions from FAB and the audience.
Dain Johnson, a member of FAB and the moderator of the forum, said the club tries to engage in the agriculture industry and hosted its forum as part of its current theme of policy.
Russel Lowry of Plumber, Idaho said he came to hear the candidates’ opinions and how they planned to carry the state for the next four years. Lowry said he found the forum useful because he learned what the candidates were going to do.
The questions asked pertained to agriculture in Idaho, covering topics such as regulation set by the Environmental Protection Agency, to “ag-gag” laws and agricultural and vocational education.
“If you look at our youth and the generation that is coming up, we have got to figure out how to better plug in Idaho kids into Idaho jobs and the way we do that is through education. The way we do that is through vocational training,” Ahlquist said. “If you look at what makes a difference in the lives of our kids and keeps them here its having mentors and its having exposure and its having a clear path to a job.”
Ahlquist said he wants to reward those who earn degrees relevant to Idaho jobs. Little, meanwhile, said the Magic Valley needs more sustainable dairy practices.
“When you talk about sustainability, some of it’s the fundamentals. The science, like what I learned years ago, a lot of it’s how you adapt. A lot of things taking place in the Magic Valley are going to need a more sustainable dairy industry,” Little said.
Both spoke about the Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (CAFE).
According to a press release on the UI website, CAFE will rely on a partnership between education, industry, and economic development stakeholders and is going to do research on water usage and environmental quality.
To keep agriculture strong in Idaho, Little said the state needs to add value to commodities, describing three issues he wanted to focus on regarding Idaho’s water: protecting Idaho’s water sovereignty, looking for more storage area for water and fighting for water rights.
Little said Idaho is already trying to protect the integrity of residents’ water, but stressed the importance of improvement.
Little and Ahlquist also answered questions related to balancing Idaho’s growth with the importance of agriculture to the state.
Ahlquist said there are ways to grow and protect the agricultural lifestyle with conservative policies.
“If you look at the heritage we have built, agriculture is our past, it is our present and it is our future,” Ahlquist said.
Kali Nelson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @kalinelson6