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Ranker's farm intern bill signed into law; future farmers not enrolled in classes can work for experience

From left, Legislative Assistant Michael Martin; Sen. Kevin Ranker; Gov. Christine Gregoire; Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, chairwoman of Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee; and farmer Jim Sesby of San Juan Island. - Office of Sen. Kevin Ranker
From left, Legislative Assistant Michael Martin; Sen. Kevin Ranker; Gov. Christine Gregoire; Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, chairwoman of Senate Labor, Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee; and farmer Jim Sesby of San Juan Island.
— image credit: Office of Sen. Kevin Ranker

Gov. Chris Gregoire on Monday signed into law a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island, to help continue the legacy of Washington’s farmers for generations to come.

“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 onto the farms and get their hands dirty.”

Ranker’s legislation establishes a pilot project to allow farms with gross sales of less than $250,000 annually to create internship programs for future farmers who are not enrolled in classes to work on farms throughout the state.

“With significant help from farmers, we were able to create a pilot that will help us ensure we preserve family farms in to the future,” Ranker said.

In order to qualify for the program, farmers must submit a written application to the state’s Department of Labor and Industries for certification and include the nature of work and how it will provide the intern with vocational knowledge and skills.

The farm intern bill is Senate Bill 6349.

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