Washington’s farm internship program has worked well. Lawmakers should graduate it from a temporary limited pilot to a permanent statewide program.
The state’s economic reputation might be airplanes and Big Tech, but Washington’s roots are in agriculture. Apples, hops, wine, dairy and hundreds of other agricultural products are a cornerstone of the state’s economy. We are a cornucopia.
But farms and ranches face challenges — from the rise of corporate farming to environmental regulations that can appear to go too far. Perhaps most difficult is the fact that fewer young people want to work the land. The average age of a Washington farmer is 59.
A decade ago, the Legislature launched the farm internship program to help train the next generation of farmers. …Farms in other counties want to participate, too, so lawmakers are considering a bill (SB 5156) to expand the program statewide and make it permanent.
…“One of the most important challenges we face is the preservation of farming in Washington and making sure that the next generation is ready to step up with knowledge of modern farming techniques, sustainability strategies and knowledge of how to run a successful farming business,” said Sen. Nikki Torres, R-Pasco, the bill’s prime sponsor.