Rep. Doc Hastings, who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee and has represented Central Washington for two decades in Congress, plans to retire at the end of this year.
“I don’t know that there’s any really good time, I just felt the time was right,” he told the Capital Press.
At the end of 2014, Hastings, 73, will have completed his 10th term in Congress.
He wants to spend time with his wife, Claire, three children and eight grandchildren.
“If something comes up, I’ll obviously look at it,” he said. “I’ve worked my whole life and I’m sure I’ll try to find something to do, but at this point, I have no idea what that is.”
Hastings, a Republican, has been a strong proponent of agriculture. He said he tried to keep an eye on what was best for the industry, from expanding markets overseas to eliminating burdensome regulations.
“Every year I’m impressed by what our agriculture community does, from the standpoint of innovations, getting products to market and food safety,” he said. “All of those things are done because farmers know it’s in their best interest to have the best product for the consumer. That’s why America has the best food supply, because of what our individual farmers do. You put that together collectively, it’s pretty impressive.”
Hastings would have liked more movement in Congress on immigration for labor-intensive agriculture. He’s been working toward that goal for the last few years, but said it isn’t likely to happen in 2014.
“Labor-intensive ag needs to have some certainty of a labor force, and I’m just sorry we couldn’t put that together,” he said. “We’re still not through the year, but it doesn’t look like anything’s going to be coming up.”
Hastings declined to comment on his biggest agriculture-related disappointment.
“I tend not to dwell on the negative parts,” he said. “I can’t think of anything right now.”
As chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, Hastings expects to follow a recent report on the Endangered Species Act with legislation. Hastings said in a press release at the time he hopes to focus the law on species recovery, address litigation and settlement reform and improve state and local participation.
“I intend to be a very aggressive chairman for the balance of the year,” he said.
Hastings doesn’t yet have any idea who he will support to succeed him. He expects many people will show an interest.
“I’m sure everybody’s speculating now, but I’ll wait to see from those who step up,” he said.