OLYMPIA - The food and agriculture business is a $40 billion industry in Washington, employing more than 160,000 people. Rep. Bruce Chandler wants to see this industry continue to flourish and provide meaningful work for more people in Washington.
He sponsored legislation to do just that. House Bill 1072 would create an Agricultural Labor Skills and Safety Grant Program, providing a grant to an organization that can recruit and train the next generation of growers, producers and ranchers.
"Agriculture has undergone dramatic changes and it's an opportunity for employees to participate in agriculture as a career, and not just a job," said Chandler (R-Granger).
"This legislation would support a program that prepares current agriculture employees for those opportunities," said the Granger lawmaker.
Chandler explained the grant would be used to provide training in workplace safety, equipment mechanics, personnel management, English as a second language, pesticide safety and more.
The grant would also be used to recruit more skilled agricultural workers, he added.
"The great thing about this program is that it would allow employees to be trained in their current workplace, and without the need to constantly travel," Chandler said. "Agriculture is a core industry in our state, and we must do all we can to ensure its vitality and future."
The legislation appears to have bipartisan support and is scheduled for a vote in the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee on Jan. 31.