Target: Washington State Legislators
Goal: Ensure more productive, safe, and legal internship programs for the growing number of small farms and aspiring farmers in Washington
Washington small farms and aspiring farmers have developed a much needed connection through informal internships, but legal risks, along with vague educational standards, have hindered the productiveness of this relationship. The Small Farm Internship Program ensures that farmers provide worker’s compensation for interns; it enhances the educational aspect of internships; and it creates communication, understanding, and structure in the government regarding the growing small farm sector.
Agriculture in Washington is incorporating more and more small farms, and in addition, farmers that are increasingly from non-farm backgrounds. These small farms need diverse labour, and aspiring farmers need hands-on agricultural education. Formalizing farm internships through the Small Farm Internship Program enhances the experience on both sides. Additionally, this program provides legal security to farmers and interns, increased compensation for interns, and increased educational resources and structure. Participants in the pilot project were satisfied with the program, recommended it to others, and expressed a need for it to continue.
The pilot project of the Small Farms Internship Program expired in 2011 and did not become established, due to lack of funding. The Washington State Legislature should more thoroughly review the benefits and challenges of this program in its 2011 report, invest in further development and improvements based on the report, and establish it as an official program with sufficient funding in the coming year. The first of its kind in the nation, the Small Farm Internship Program recognizes and encourages the promising growth of small farms and aspiring farmers, and thus is an important model for similar programs around the country. Urge legislators to develop this essential program by signing the petition below today.
Dear Washington State Legislators,
The Small Farm Internship Program provides farmers and farm interns legal security, enhanced education, worker’s compensation, and structure and visibility within the Department of Labour and Industry. Growing numbers of small farms and farmers from non-farm backgrounds have increasingly connected through informal internships, but this relationship has proven to need more formalized educational opportunities, as well as recognition of operations within the government.
From 2010 til 2011, the program carried out a pilot project in Skagit and San Juan Counties. Farmers had specifically expressed need for worker’s compensation and legal recognition of their interns, and the program responded directly to those needs. Participants appreciated the compensation, educational enhancement and legal security of the program and recommended it to other farmers.
Please review the Small Farm Internship Pilot Project 2011 Final Report for the Washington Legislature, provide funding for further development of the program, and establish it in Washington in the coming year. The small farm sector is growing in Washington, necessitating enhanced education and compensation for aspiring farmers, reduction of legal risk, and further communication with the Department of Labour and Industry.
[Your Name Here]