Training and teaching the next generation of Washington’s farmers could get easier thanks to legislation passed Tuesday by the Senate.
Senate Bill 6349, sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, would allow internships for aspiring farmers – providing firsthand experience in their future line of work.
“After farmers in my district came to me, we saw that red tape was getting in the way of farmers teaching their skills to younger individuals,” Ranker said. “This bill ensures Washington farms can continue teaching future farmers for generations to come.”
The measure would allow farms with gross sales of less than $250,000 annually to establish internship programs for future farmers who are not enrolled in classes to work on farms throughout the state.
“The average age of a farmer in Washington is 57 years old,” Ranker said. “If we’re serious about promoting agriculture in Washington we’re going to have to encourage younger people to get into the farms and get their hands dirty.
Farmers interested in employing interns would submit a written application for certification to be reviewed by the Department of Labor and Industries. The farm would be required to specify the nature of the work interns would perform and how the experience would provide them with vocational knowledge and skills.
SB 6349 now goes to the House for consideration.