Women in Produce — Britt Raybould
Born and raised on a potato farm in eastern Idaho, Britt Raybould is still close to her potato roots today.
Raybould, a graduate of Boise State University of Westminster College, wears many hats.
Some include roles serving as:
- Republican representative for District 34 in the Idaho state legislature;
- Chief financial officer for Raybould Bros. Farms, where she and her brother represent the third generation of a family farm that grows mostly fresh potatoes;
- Founder of Write Bold, a consulting firm focused on small business strategy and marketing;
- Vice president of legislative and government affairs for the National Potato Council; and
- Ag Affairs Committee member for the Idaho Potato Commission.
Elected to the Idaho legislature in 2018, Raybould said she has loved the first few months of her freshly minted political career, a big part of which has been representing the interests of farmers. She is one of only three potato growers in the 70 member Idaho House of Representatives.
Raybould left the farm for a while after graduating from Boise State University to take a job in corporate communications for about seven years, but she came back. Her decision was based on love of family and farming itself.
“There is definitely the family component, the opportunity to continue to live and work with my family,” she said. “The second piece was that it was all about creating something that was tangible.”
In the world today, Raybould said a lot of what the corporate world is about is sitting an office.
“Yes, you are working hard, but it’s not necessarily clear at the end of the day what you specifically have done,” she said.
“When you are on the farm, you know exactly what you’ve done, because for the most part, you can see exactly what happened during the day. And there’s something very rewarding about that.”
Raybould, who also holds a master’s degree from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, runs her own business strategy and marketing consulting business from the farm.
“The flexibility of starting that business was a big part of why I was in a position to come back and be able to be on the farm, because it was location independent,” she said.
“I didn’t have to necessarily be in any one place, (to have) the opportunity to do the two things I have loved."
She has a uncanny ability to make everyone in a room feel like they are the most important. I enjoy watching her digest everyone’s ideas, clear them up and give them back in a better way.
In Raybould’s political life, Raybould said her “training wheel” period involved working with the National Potato Commission as a volunteer leader. Currently on the board of directors and executive committee of the NPC, Raybould has been involved with the NPC for nearly 10 years.
“I’ve been able to (with the NPC) have that experience as being a direct advocate, to able to go in and make the argument for why a particular policy is important for the industry,” she said. “I am now on the flip side of that, and I’m the one that’s actually trying to craft the policy, and I’m getting that feedback from other stakeholders and trying to figure out the best path forward.”
As a freshman legislator, Raybould said the experience with NPC has been invaluable.
Larry Alsum, owner of Alsum Farms & Produce Inc., Friesland, Wis. — president of the executive committee of the NPC — said Raybould is an asset to the potato and produce industry and brings a family farm perspective to every issue.
“Britt brings a very strategic and analytical approach to every discussion,” Alsum said.
“She balances her analytical approach with great perception on the people involved and looking at the desired outcome for the benefit of the entire industry.”
I’m proud of the fact that I figured out a way to come back and continue to be a contributing member of my family’s farming organization, and the role I have been able to play in the industry that helps move the ball down the field with the things we want to accomplish as an industry.
Cully Easterday of Easterday Farms in Pasco, Wash., and immediate past president of NPC’s executive committee, also praised Raybould’s people skills.
“In my opinion her best attribute is the way she treats the people around her,” Easterday said.
“She has a uncanny ability to make everyone in a room feel like they are the most important. I enjoy watching her digest everyone’s ideas, clear them up and give them back in a better way.”
Crediting her father and grandfather as role models, Raybould also said others in the industry and in the NPC have been great mentors.
“Lynn Olsen from Washington has been fabulous from day one, so thoughtful and very supportive,” she said.
Potato growers Jim Wysocki from Wisconsin and Roger Mix from Colorado were also among those who were willing to answers questions and help herbetter understand the political process, Raybould said.
One of the challenges of wearing several hats, she said, is making sure she remembers her priorities.
“I’ve made some commitments to people, whether it’s my family or other business partners, and now to the people I represent my district — I need to make sure that I can make the decisions that are respectful of those commitments.”
As she considers the challenges of the agriculture community, she said that one of the challenges is staying relevant and sustainable.
“I think a number of people are so far removed from the farming process at this point in time, they just can’t grasp what it takes to produce the food that they are used to seeing when they walk into a grocery store,” she said.
She balances her analytical approach with great perception on the people involved and looking at the desired outcome for the benefit of the entire industry.
The consequences of that distance, she said, can set up potentially damaging policies for farmers.
“I think a lot about how we need to do, being advocates for what we do, and reminding people of the importance of what we do,” she said.
Sustainability in farming is required in order to survive, she said.
“If I’m not farming sustainably, I don’t get to come back to farm the next year.”
Of all her accomplishments, Raybould said is proudest of the role she can play today.
“I don’t know if anything I have done is notable, but I would say I’m proud of the fact that I figured out a way to come back and continue to be a contributing member of my family’s farming organization, and the role I have been able to play in the industry that helps move the ball down the field with the things we want to accomplish as an industry,” she said.
“I’m proud of the role I have played in that.”
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