While the Washington economy continues to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, many in the farming sector feel they were unfairly targeted by Governor Jay Inslee. Late last week, the governor’s office issued rules that many say essentially shut down the agritourism industry. And what frustrated many in farm country was that very similar activities were allowed to continue in other capacities across the state.
“[Agritourism] activities are very low problems,” said Sunnyside state senator Jim Honeyford. “You can space people out. Require people to wear masks.”
Honeyford said farms would have been forced to shutter attractions such as corn mazes, hay rides and even letting visitors see animals. However, after growing pressure from industry groups and agritourism businesses, the state reversed course and issued amended rules. But, Honeyford said a more thoughtful approach is needed.
“We should have involved the industry, the small farmers, and worked with them to see what would really work. And also, I’d have to say it would be helpful to have a special session and the legislature could weigh in on these things.”
Honeyford along with fellow Republican senators Judy Warnick and Shelly Short continue to push for the Legislature to reconvene and comprehensively address the state’s post-COVID recovery. They noted the state faces a budget shortfall of more than $3 billion, and lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned with “executive overreach and spending decisions”.
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