Think there are no farms left in Clark County? The Washington Farm Bureau doesn’t agree.
On Tuesday, the bureau announced it was honoring two legislators who represent parts of Clark County – Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver and Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima – with this year’s Legislator of the Year award. The bureau is the state’s largest general agricultural organization with 47,000 members.
The awards were given to the legislators for “their leadership and exceptional dedication to working on key issues important to Farm Bureau members.”
According to a 2017 USDA Census of Agriculture, there were nearly 2,000 farms covering more than 90,000 acres remaining in Clark County. Despite a slight increase over 2012 census numbers, the health of farm operations in the county has long been in decline. Much of that decline can be blamed on the robust growth of the county’s urban areas as well as land-use pressures that threaten the economic viability of farming operations.
Those pressures have made finding key legislators to protect and lobby for agricultural resources vital for groups like the Farm Bureau. In a prepared statement, bureau President Mike LaPlant said this is especially true following a Yakima County Superior Court judge’s ruling in June that cleared the way for a class action lawsuit against DeRuyter Brothers Dairy for unpaid overtime.
“Rep. Hoff and Sen. King were instrumental in protecting farmers and ranchers from the unfair consequences of the Washington Supreme Court’s DeRuyter decision,” LaPlant said, noting their efforts “created the opportunity for a more thoughtful, workable bill to be passed that dealt with ag overtime and retroactive compensation. For that, we are sincerely grateful.”
Hoff is the highest-ranking Republican on the House Labor and Workplace Standards Committee, which plays a significant role in employment issues directly impacting farm operators.
King is the highest-ranking Republican on both the Transportation and the Labor and Commerce committees. LaPlant noted both committees are extremely important to the “people who grow and raise our food.”
“Both of these legislators went above and beyond for their constituents, and for all of us involved in agriculture,” LaPlant said. “We are honored to award our Legislator of the Year award to Rep. Larry Hoff and Sen. Curtis King.”