By The Capital Press Editorial Board
If the Washington Senate Labor and Commerce Committee has its way, farmers and ranchers who supply large retailers doing business in the Evergreen State could find themselves certifying to those customers that they are not slavers.
Introduced by Seattle Democrat Rebecca Saldana, Senate Bill 5693 mandates that retailers with worldwide sales of more than $200 million require farmers and ranchers to report any incidents of slavery, peonage and human trafficking. Furthermore, the law would require any violation of labor laws to be reported...
No one denies that human trafficking, particularly in the sex trade, is a real problem. While there's probably little doubt that forced labor is a problem in the third world, there is no evidence that slavery or peonage is practiced on U.S. farms in general or Washington farms in particular.
Washington farm groups were rightly enraged by the suggestion.
Washington Potato and Onion Association lobbyist Jim Jesernig, said potato and onion growers were angry, and so was he.
"The supply chain that feeds you and your constituents are our farmers, ranchers and food processors. This accuses them of slavery and human trafficking."