Farm Internship Program.
Legislation enacted in 2010 directed the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) to establish a farm internship pilot project. Eligible farms were those located in Skagit County or San Juan County. This pilot project expired on December 31, 2011.
Legislation enacted in 2014 reauthorized the pilot project for the following counties: Chelan, Grant, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Lincoln, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Spokane, Thurston, Whatcom, and Yakima. In 2017 legislation reauthorized the pilot project through December 31, 2019, and added the following counties: Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, and Walla Walla. The pilot project expired December 31, 2019, and, in 2020, the Legislature directed L&I to reestablish the pilot project. The current pilot project expires on December 31, 2024.
Under the pilot project, qualified small farms are allowed to employ up to three farm interns at any time, working under special certificates. Farms seeking to employ interns must apply for special certificates issued by L&I and sign agreements with the interns setting forth specified information. The special certificate must specify its terms and conditions, including the duration of the internship; the wage rate, if any; and any room, board, stipends, or other remuneration.
Benton County is added to the list of counties in which L&I is authorized to operate the farm internship pilot program.
(In support) It would be good to see the farm internship pilot project in all counties; for example, there is farming in King County. The pilot project is currently not available in Benton County, and there is a farm in Benton County that is interested in participating in the pilot project. The state needs more farmers, and there is a need to have farm internships so people can learn about planting, wildlife management, and how to best manage farms. The farm internship pilot project would be a great addition to Benton County.