From 1280KIT.com, News Talk, Lance Tormey, 24 Jun 2011.
Yakima Valley, WA — A diverse group of Yakima Valley leaders and the Washington Farmworker Housing Trust (the Trust) are releasing their Yakima County Farmworker Housing Action Plan 2011-2016. The Action Plan is the first ever comprehensive strategy to address the housing needs of the largest employment sector in Yakima County and Washington State. Area leaders in health, education, agriculture, finance, housing and civic issues have worked for nearly a year developing the Plan.
“It all begins with a home,” said Brien Thane, Executive Director of the Trust. “By ensuring safe, affordable homes for farmworkers and their families we can help stabilize the skilled labor force our agricultural economy depends on and build stronger rural communities both now and in the future.”
The Trust’s Action Plan lays out strategies to increase access to safe, quality affordable housing for farmworker families in Yakima County over the next 5 years in order to enhance the overall well-being of Yakima County residents and sustain Yakima’s agricultural economy. The report notes that both farmers and farmworkers contribute over $1.2 billion annually in crop and livestock production to Yakima’s economy, helping the agricultural sector continue to outperform the state’s overall economy. “Some people think Washington agriculture is declining because they see orchards being removed but they don’t realize that those orchards are being replanted with more trees and higher productivity there or in other rural parts of the state,” said Mike Gempler, Executive Director of the Washington Growers League.