Tuesday, September 7, 2004
farm labor dispute resolution system
The state of Washington has entered into an agreement that
calls for the Washington State Grange to administer a statewide alternative
dispute resolution system. Specifically, the program centers on employment
disputes between farmers and farm workers.
The Grange will serve as the lead organization in what some
are calling an "historic collaborative effort," which also includes
the Washington Growers League, a Yakima-based ag organization, the United
Farmworkers of America and two statewide legal aid programs. The aim is to
create an alternative to costly litigation for resolving farm labor employment
"The Grange has a long history of bringing fresh
perspectives and new ideas to problems facing farmers and those involved in the
agricultural industry," said Terry Hunt, president of the Washington State
"Legal problems regularly arise in the labor-intensive
fruit industry," said Hunt. "We have a responsibility to find ways to
identify disputes early on and get them resolved in a fair and efficient
Echoing Hunt's comments, Washington Growers League Executive
Director Mike Gempler noted that the cost of litigation of farm labor disputes
can quickly reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.
"Our members need an alternative to litigation that can
deliver fair outcomes, ensure compliance with applicable laws and minimize the
risk of the extraordinary expense of protracted litigation," Gempler said.
"We believe that a collaborative alternative dispute resolution system
will help achieve these ends."
Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Northwest
Justice Project, which is the state's largest legal aid provider, views the
alternative system with optimism. He said his agency's clients seek a prompt
and fair resolution of disputes that arise in the course of their employment.
"Living hand-to-mouth as they migrate from location to
location, they have no interest in prolonging or escalating the adversarial
level of legal disputes," said McIntyre. "We are working and will
continue to work hard to find common ground with everyone involved in this
Funding for the alternative dispute resolution system,
totaling $100,000 this year, was appropriated by the Washington state
legislature this past session.
USDA creates register to reach minority farmers
Minority farmers and ranchers may now join a new voluntary
register to receive information from the United States Department of
The register was established at the end of August.
"The new minority farm register is an outreach tool to
under-served farmers and ranchers who are not currently enrolled in USDA loan,
farm or conservation programs," said USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman.
"The register will create a shared outreach list that will help USDA,
community-based organizations and minority-serving educational institutions to
communicate with minority farmers and ranchers."
Veneman explained that by joining the register, minority
producers will receive outreach materials, newsletters and program
announcements from USDA agencies and from other outreach partners.
Those wishing to join the register must sign and date an
application that provides their name and address. Applications are available at
USDA service centers.
Air search nets 620 pot plants
Approximately 620 pot plants were seized last Friday in
Yakima County during a marijuana eradication operation that was conducted high
above the ground.
According to Doug Hintze of the Law Enforcement Against
Drugs (LEAD) task force, helicopters provided by the Washington National Guard
and aircraft from the Washington State Patrol were used in the successful
operation. Hintze said seven different growing sites were spotted from the air.
The Friday, Sept. 3, eradication mission culminated a
marijuana spotter training session sponsored by the WSP. Officers from
throughout the state who attended the class, along with detectives from the
city/county narcotics unit and LEAD task force, as well as personnel from the National
Guard and uniformed officers from the Yakama Nation Tribal Police Department,
participated in the operation.
Hintze said additional marijuana growing sites are expected
to be located at later dates.