Sunnyside Sen. Sen. Jim Honeyford’s work to support Washington’s agricultural community and improve access to water was endorsed by Gov. Jay Inslee today, during two bill-signing ceremonies in Olympia. The two measures, sponsored by Honeyford, each allow state agencies to better serve rural Washington.
“I have always tried to look for solutions to problems that face our agricultural communities, small businesses and families,” said Honeyford, who has represented the 15th Legislative District since 1998.
“I am pleased that both of these common-sense bills found broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and will soon become law.”
Senate Bill 6125 will give the Department of Ecology another six years to enter into voluntary regional agreements related to the appropriation of new water for out-of-stream use developed in the Columbia River Basin. State law prevented Ecology from entering into such agreements after June 30, 2018, although existing agreements are permitted to remain in effect after that date. Honeyford’s bill extends Ecology’s agreement-making authority until June 30, 2024.
“Having the ability to make these regional agreements is a valuable tool for Ecology to use in managing the waters of the Columbia,” Honeyford said. “They will help provide water for new users and manage water availability during emergencies, including droughts. Although it is not used often, this authority should remain in Ecology’s toolbox and its potential explored longer.”
Another Honeyford proposal signed into law by Inslee today was Senate Bill 6319, which will permit the state Department of Agriculture to cooperate in the implementation of the federal Produce Safety Rule. The new law will allow the agency to conduct compliance-verification activities, enforce regulatory compliance, and accept federal funding to help pay for both roles.
“Washington farmers face a host of new federal regulations and inspection regimes,” explains Honeyford. “It can be hard for farmers – especially those with small family farms – to adjust to new and changing regulations. This new law will create a state program focused more on education than punishment. It will allow state inspectors, who know Washington agriculture and crops better than federal bureaucrats, to do the work, with funding provided by the federal Department of Agriculture.”
According to Honeyford, these changes are crucial to making sure Washington’s produce is cleared and shipped to market in a timely fashion that will prevent loss and waste tied to regulatory delays.
Both of Honeyford’s bills, which each passed the Legislature with unanimous support, will go into effect on June 7.