Despite agritourism already feeling the negative economic impact of COVID-19 and Stay Home Orders, the Governor released new rules in August that would end hay rides, petting farm animals, and touching farm equipment.
The new rules are arbitrary and disproportionately punish small farmers and agritourism in rural communities like the 20th Legislative District, who are already feeling the financial strain of the Stay Home Orders.
The new rules prohibiting farm playgrounds, viewing animals, and rides to fields are more restrictive than rules for public parks, zoos, public transportation, and even shopping indoors at places like Walmart. Farms are already meeting the capacity and sanitization rules, including social distancing.Peter Abbarno, Candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.
According to a Capital Press article, the agritourism rules are effective immediately and apply to all counties that have progressed past Phase 1 in Inslee’s four-phase plan to reopen Washington businesses. Any farm that breaks a rule can be fined $10,000.
Agritourism customers must wear face coverings and keep at least 6 feet apart. The rules ban activities such as wagon rides, haunted houses, playgrounds, farm equipment “exploration,” animal viewing, petting areas, paintball and campfires.
It was disappointing to hear, but not surprising, that the Governor didn’t consult with the Washington Farm Bureau before making his unilateral decision to direct the overly restrictive rules at rural famers and the agritourism industry.
No corn mases or fall events is a drastic policy! The Governor needs to take a mulligan and work with the agritourism industry to develop a better policy that protects visitors AND opens up our farms and communities.Peter Abbarno, Candidate for State House of Representatives in the 20th Legislative District.
Recently, the Governor was forced to roll some of the restrictions back- evidencing the lack of leadership and a plan by the governor to address COVID-19 and a re-opening plan.