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Articles written by Pam Lewison


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  • The time for gray wolf management to change is now

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Jul 11, 2024

    The gray wolf population in Washington state set a reproduction record, growing by an astounding 44 animals in 2023. The state’s wolf population has increased for 15 years in a row and is now at its highest level since it was listed. The question is, what will it take for the state to change its management policy for the predators? Last year we proposed a state delisting of gray wolves in the eastern-most third of Washington state. We also proposed an incremental, local approach to delisting as gray wolves dispersed throughout the state. T...

  • Farmworker wage suit against DOL grossly misinterprets H-2A program rules

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|May 23, 2024

    It is illegal to hire farmworkers on an H-2A visa instead of qualified local farmworkers. That simple fact undermines the latest attempt to dramatically increase farm labor costs and harm family farms across Washington state. The federal H-2A visa program is an often-misunderstood foreign worker program. For years, there have been calls to reform the complex program that requires extensive cooperation between state and federal employment agencies. Perhaps the latest suit filed to undermine the...

  • Supply chain shortages are changing how restaurants source meat

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Apr 18, 2024

    Under federal law antibiotics are banned in the food supply, yet food companies feel compelled to market their absence in meat products. One fast food chain recently announced a change to its meat sourcing standards and many customers are questioning the change. Whether foods are labeled “antibiotic free” or not is irrelevant in the discussion of the existence of antibiotics in meat products. There are strict policies enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding the use of ant...

  • New recourse against wolves

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Jan 18, 2024

    There are at least 216 gray wolves in 37 packs in our state. Thirty-one of those gray wolf packs are in North-Central and Northeastern Washington. Senate Bill 5939 – relating to protecting livestock from wolf predation – seeks to give affected livestock raisers a chance to mitigate the confirmed and probable predation deaths of their animals. The bill would allow owners of livestock to monitor a depredation and kill the first gray wolf that returns. The bill lays out the livestock pro...

  • Are checkoffs really taking taxpayer dollars and giving them to agriculture?

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Oct 19, 2023

    Congressional legislation like the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming (OFF) Act imply both a misunderstanding of how federal checkoff programs function and why they exist. The OFF Act suggests federal checkoff programs are simply a means for further consolidation of “industrial agriculture” and federal agricultural lobbying organizations. However, the structure of each checkoff belies that notion. Checkoff programs are federal marketing and research programs funded entirely by the pro...

  • Grizzlies might be coming to a park or trail near you

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Oct 12, 2023

    Apex predators have already saturated the landscape in Northeast Washington. Now, the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife and the National Park Service want to add more by reintroducing grizzlies to the North Cascades. Both federal agencies proposing reintroduction of grizzlies into the North Cascades have invoked Section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act as the trigger for bringing the predators back to Washington. Section 10(j) states federal agencies should, “facilitate reintroductions of l...

  • Ag laws show first-world mindset

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Sep 21, 2023

    The phrase “first-world problems” has become a punch line – a throwaway statement because it is uttered by people with plenty of gadgets, a reliable food supply and a secure roof over their heads. It has also dulled our experience of a world in which seasonal food is the reality and some products are hard to get. When everything is available, regardless of season or effort, it is easy to voice shallow moral judgments when it comes to food production and consumption. Animal rights policies have b...

  • Gray wolves need full state delisting before hitting the road to another state

    Pam Lewison, Center for Agriculture at the Washington Police Center|Jun 29, 2023

    Governor Inslee has indicated he is open to discussion about sending gray wolves from Northeastern Washington to Colorado. Before we start sending gray wolves outside the confines of our borders – doing nothing for our state’s recovery goals – we should consider updating the rules of recovery to translocate wolves to Western Washington, to reduce pressure on Eastern Washington ranchers and accelerate delisting here. Gray wolves found their way into Washington state in 2002. The Wolf Advis...

  • Decision a win for landowners

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Jun 1, 2023

    In a victory for private property owners, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the “significant nexus” test in its Sackett v EPA ruling. The ruling changes how “waters of the United States” can be applied by leaving wetlands that are not directly flowing into “rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water that flow across or form a part of State boundaries” out of consideration as WOTUS. The “significant nexus” test was established in Rapanos v United States. The “significant nexus” test defined “water...

  • Don't focus on carbon, manage our forests

    Pam Lewison, Initiative on Agriculture director for the Washington Policy Center|Nov 17, 2022

    Forest health, climate change, and a plan that got almost no input before being announced is at the heart of the “carbon project” announced by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources last week. The project, developed by Finite Carbon, proposes to set aside 10,000 acres of forest in Western Washington, once set aside for marbled murrelet habitat and then cleared for logging, for carbon offsets that can be purchased by large companies in trade for their greenhouse gas emissions. The...

  • Wolf hunting season may solve issue

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Oct 13, 2022

    As clashes between wolves and cattle continue this fall, the discovery of six poisoned wolves in Stevens County and the hearing of arguments that could end grazing in the Colville National Forest by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals have created another complication in an already difficult situation managing growing wolf populations. Depredations continue to be confirmed, putting the state Department of Fish and Wildlife in conflict with environmental activists if they issue kill orders and with...

  • What's in a name? Chicken labeling can be confusing for consumers

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Aug 25, 2022

    My husband and I recently got into a discussion about the differences in the labeling of chicken. He saw a post on social media outlining the supposed differences between “pasture raised,” “cage raised,” “cage free,” and “free range.” It is easy to get caught up in the virtuous marketing of “pasture raised,” “cage free,” and “free range” versus “cage raised.” It is easy to imagine flocks of chickens strutting through pristine green fields and foraging for their food, but too often food labeli...

  • Ruralites left out of suicide hotline

    Pam Lewison|Jul 28, 2022

    For people considering self-inflicted death, there is an opportunity of 10 minutes or less to intervene and potentially change that course of action. July 16 marked a milestone in the national mental health discussion with the roll out of the 9-8-8 call system. Previously, anyone in crisis was encouraged to call the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). In 2020, Congress enacted legislation requiring the shortening of the crisis lifeline to 9-8-8 to make it easier for...

  • Urban lawmakers lack farmer respect

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Mar 24, 2022

    About six weeks ago, I had a “cardiac episode.” As I laid in the emergency room, thinking about my to-do list and wondering what I could do for the people who were contacting me regularly asking for help with policies in Olympia that threatened their farms or ranches, the irony of my “heart problem” was entirely lost on me. I have not worked in public policy for very long, but I have been a farmer my entire life. Even when I’ve held other jobs or lived elsewhere, when I came home, I was a farmer...

  • Inslee broke ag relationship

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Mar 10, 2022

    It is not often Gov. Jay Inslee directly addresses the state’s agricultural community. Last week, an Oregon publication ran a cover story featuring our governor doing just that. The interview revealed how out of touch Inslee has become with farmers and ranchers of our state and, yet, how certain he is of his own ability to maintain an agriculture relationship. When asked how he would “characterize his relationship” with agricultural, the governor responded: “Maybe it’s a little easier for me to...

  • State bill proposes utilizing farmland for fish habitat

    Pam Lewison, Washington Policy Center|Jan 27, 2022

    House Bill 1838 asks Washingtonians to save fish habitat at the expense of rural communities. The bill proposes an expansion of riparian mitigation areas from their current range of 50 to 100 feet from the high-water mark to between 100 and 249 feet depending upon the site. Buffer zones of 150 feet along 1 mile of riparian zone are the equivalent of 18 acres of farmland. Most urban areas are exempt from the rules of the bill. If a landowner must remove more than half an acre of land from...

  • Time for labor-allied lawmakers to stop congratulating themselves, get back to work

    Pam Lewison, Director for the Washington Policy Center Initiative on Agriculture|Apr 1, 2021

    When ESSB 5172, a bill addressing retroactive pay in agriculture, passed out of the Senate in early March, Senate Democrats who hijacked the bill with amendments celebrated its passage as a supposed victory for farmworkers throughout our state. They also acknowledged the bill still needed work. Yet, since moving to the House, the legislators who pledged to make the bill better have disappeared, the embodiment of all the negative clichés you hear about dishonest politicians and sneaky lawyers. The current version of ESSB 5172 would create a...

  • Immigrant Relief Fund problem is lack of solutions

    Pam Lewison, Initiative on Agriculture for the Washington Policy Center|Nov 5, 2020

    SEATTLE - Undocumented workers are the hidden people in every state, including Washington. Most work hard, pay taxes, and are engaged with their communities. Our state, however, has decided to ignore its own hypocrisy by working toward making legal means of employment through the H-2A program more expensive and creating a $40 million fund for undocumented workers instead. State officials announced today the Immigrant Relief Fund is now accepting applications from “Washington residents who are un...

  • Waste

    Pam Lewison|Jun 4, 2020

    No agriculture producer likes to see their work go to waste. Whether it is a crop, milk or livestock, no one involved in agriculture wants their products to go anywhere other than to consumers. That is what makes the COVID-19 crisis particularly difficult for agriculture – food continues to be produced but, in many cases, it is not reaching its intended destination. In April, the president of Tyson meats warned of a nationwide meat shortage. Milk producers are working to find the middle g...