Washington Farm Bureau Keeps Agriculture’s Priorities a Focal Point as Legislators Prepare for the 2024 Legislative Session.
On Thursday, November 30, Washington Farm Bureau (WFB) helped kick off Senate Committee Assembly Days as the Senate Agriculture, Water, Natural Resources & Parks Committee convened for a work session.
WFB Director of Governmental Affairs, Bre Elsey, was invited to present on two important issues to agriculture, overtime for workers and the fuel surcharge exemption to the Climate Commitment Act (CCA).
Elsey reminded the members, “Agriculture in Washington is the second-largest industry in the state, and the economic health and viability of that industry are really the economic health and viability of the entire state.” Elsey went on to describe what farm worker compensation looks like and the importance of a seasonality component to the agriculture overtime program.
Regarding agriculture’s exemption to the CCA fuel surcharges. Dr. Joel Creswell, Climate Pollution Reduction Program Manager with the Department of Ecology (DOE), shared the results of the Fuel Exemption Work Group facilitated by DOE.
Bre Elsey made it clear that failing to honor agriculture’s CCA fuel surcharge exemption impacts the most vulnerable farms in our state. “For agriculture, the hard part is that it disproportionately impacts the smallest farmers in the state. Sixty-seven percent of farms in Washington are small farms,” Elsey stated.
Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Kevin Van De Wege acknowledged, “There is an initiative to the legislature to stop [the CCA program and] if it is repealed, it’s repealed for everybody.”
The 2024 legislative session is expected to convene on January 8, 2024.