Farms across the country are facing challenges recruiting the next generation of farmers. Under legislation introduced by state Sen. Ron Muzzall, R-Oak Harbor and approved today by the state Senate, the state would revive a pilot program to expose young workers to the agricultural industry through farm internships.
“Young folks don’t always know the options they may have to learn a trade or find a career path,” said Muzzall. “My legislation will open up opportunities for young workers to explore a career in agriculture and, also importantly, support small farms in our state.”
Senate Bill 6421 would direct the state Department of Labor and Industries to reestablish a pilot project that began in 2010 and involved 20 of Washington’s 39 counties when it expired at the end of 2019. The project, which is primarily geared toward supporting small farms, would remove regulatory barriers to employ interns who will receive training and other benefits such as housing while they may be starting their own farming operations.
“This program has had a great deal of success and given the current state of farming, one that is desperately need,” Muzzall said.
“This farm internship program is a unique, innovative, educational opportunity for interns to receive training on small farms. Extending this program will preserve a safe, educational option for interested interns and farmers,” said Scott Dilley, Communications Director for the Washington State Dairy Federation. “We are thankful to Sen. Muzzall for his sponsorship of this bill and for the vote by senators today to move the bill forward.”
This was Muzzall’s first bill to be approved since recently joining the Senate and was approved unanimously. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.