Thursday, January 21, 2010

WA Senate Bill 6349 - Give our small (unsubsidized) farmers a chance to stay in business.(Also, read about "Food Safety" bills in Nov. 10 post below)

Most of our small farmers hold two or 3 other jobs just so they can stay in business growing safe and healthy food.
Here's a letter from Matt Marinkovich talking about giving them a fighting chance:

"Hello There
I am a commercial fisherman who lives on San Juan Island and I am writing you in support of SB 6349. Since I moved here from Tacoma over six years ago I have learned more about food and farming than I ever dreamed I would know.

One of the things I see firsthand is most of these farmers here on these islands (and everywhere else, as well) are no spring chickens-- the majority of them are either at or soon approaching "retirement" age, and I know only a couple of younger people who have fully entered the farming trade. I think its a matter of public security/safety (especially on these ferry-dependent islands) that we have young people entering the farm trade--who is going to grow our food in 15- years? Shall we outsource it to Dubai?

It makes no sense that when people, young or old, want to learn how to farm that they would not be considered an intern. There's more to running a small farm than just planting veggies, and it takes a while to learn the important skills needed to make a farm just break even, let alone become profitable. I know enthusiastic young people who would like to learn the farm trade, and I know farmers who are willing to teach them but they can't work on their farm because of the L&I law as it currently exists. There should be no restrictions at all--in fact there should be INCENTIVES--when it comes to new people entering the farm trade.

On my small, family-owned fishing boat I hire crew as independent contractors. They are paid a share of the gross, and could make a lot or a little--there is no minimum, and there's NO State L&I agent poking their nose in my business (Thank you God! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!). These small, family-owned farms operate in much the same way (except for the L&I agent). They're NOT like a giant factory trawler with 30 grunts slaving away on the factory deck-- they have just a few good hands dedicated to keeping the farm afloat, and I think this law should be passed so the government will get off the back of the small farmers so they can get busy with the vitally important job of training the next generations of farmers.

Who grows your food?


Matt Marinkovich
consumer of locally-grown produce and registered voter"