Giving Our Farmers a Seat at the Table

May 24, 2024

As many of you know, Central Washington is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. From Sunnyside to Okanogan, our hardworking producers provide the food for our nation, and the world.

Central Washington is currently the top producer of many agricultural products, including potatoes, tree fruit, berries, wheat, and various types of livestock and poultry. This success resulted in over $7.29 billion in sales in Washington’s 4th Congressional District alone in 2022. This is due to the over 7,890 farms across Central Washington, 92% of which are family-run. These family farms are the backbone of our nation, producing over 300 different commodities and contributing millions to our local economy. Despite their hard work and contributions, these family farms are facing many challenges. 

One thing our producers are experiencing is the lack of a reliable and legal workforce. As a third-generation farmer from one of the most productive agricultural regions where many of our crops are labor-intensive, I see this issue firsthand. One of my top priorities in Congress is making sure our farmers have the labor they need to plant, tend, and harvest their crops. My bill, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, does just that. This legislation establishes an employment and merit-based program for foreign workers to legally work in agriculture, reducing incentives for illegal immigration and strengthening both our food supply chain and national security.

Another challenge our producers face is the threat of family farms not remaining in the family. For far too long, when a loved one dies, farmers, ranchers, and small business owners not only have to deal with their grief—they must also grapple with a surprise notice from the IRS stating they owe hefty taxes in order to transfer over the deed to another family member. Family farms should not be forced to shut down or sell to pay a burdensome tax, which is why I co-sponsored the re-introduction of the Death Tax Repeal Act to protect small farm operations. The survival of our family farms hinges on the ability of our producers to afford to keep them, which is why I remain supportive of tax laws the protect—rather than harm—the farms that produce the food and fiber that fuels America.

While our family farms work to feed our nation, it is up to Congress to do its part by passing a comprehensive Farm Bill. This week, the 2024 Farm Bill enters the markup process, during which the House Committee on Agriculture will debate and consider amendments before the bill proceeds to a vote on the House floor. The Farm Bill affects all Americans—not just farmers—so I urge the House Committee on Agriculture to carefully consider amendments. It is important that this legislation preserves premier agricultural research institutions, supports our family farms, and provides a safety net for the long-term success of our agricultural industry.

Our producers in Central Washington are no strangers to hard work, and as one of the few farmers in Congress, I will always fight for meaningful agricultural reforms to promote a healthy farm economy that works for producers and consumers

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