Schmick says water issues likely to dominate session
By STEVE BROWN
OLYMPIA -- Two farmers and a veterinarian will be among the new faces on the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee during the upcoming state legislative session.
Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax, is a second-generation dryland farmer in Whitman County, growing barley, wheat and garbanzos. He has been a member of the state and county Farm Bureaus, American Farm Bureau Grain Quality Committee, Washington Barley Commission and the National Barley Improvement Committee.
"I've been in the Legislature since 2007, and it took me five years to get on this committee," he said. "It's quite a popular committee to be on for the natural resources arena, and that's a good place for people involved in agriculture."
Schmick said water issues and irrigation are important topics in Washington. "The biggest thing is trying to have an environment where we can keep people in business," he said. "There are so many regulations that agriculture has to put up with. Government shouldn't be an impediment."
Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, also in the Legislature since 2007, is a farmer and small business owner in Grant County. She has been active in 4-H leadership and was named a 2012 Friend of Farm Bureau by the Washington State Farm Bureau.
"Agriculture and water resources remain at the top of my agenda," she said. "I'll continue proposing ways to help our farmers who contribute in such a large way to our state's economy. We've also got some large water issues in our state, and I'll make sure they're not ignored."
Rep. Kathy Haigh, D-Shelton, who earned her veterinarian degree from Ohio State University, has served in Legislature since 1999.
"The first time I ran (for office), I wanted to be on the Ag Committee," she said. "I'm very excited. I've got lots of things to learn and lots of things to offer."
Haigh was born and raised on an 80-acre farm in Ohio, where her family grew wheat, corn, soybeans and hay and raised "a few cows, horses, chickens and pigs."
She and her husband, also a veterinarian, treat both large and small animals at their clinic in Mason County.
Returning as chairman of the House Ag committee is Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen. Blake has been chairman for the past five years, and in 2011 he received the Legislator of the Year Award from the Farm Bureau for championing funding of the Washington State Department of Agriculture and the Conservation Commission.
Blake said his constituents' concerns include rural property, the shellfish industry, the state's forests, wildlife conflicts and food labeling issues.
Other members of the committee are Vincent Buys, R-Lynden; Bruce Chandler, R-Granger (ranking Republican); Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish; Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw; Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes (vice chairwoman); Drew MacEwen, R-Union (assistant ranking Republican); Eric Pettigrew. D-Seattle; Derek Stanford, D-Bothell; Kevin Van De Wege, D-Sequim; Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda; and Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama.
The House Ag Committee addresses agricultural production, marketing and sales; animal and plant disease control; fisheries and wildlife; water; mining; forest practices and fire protection; and the management of certain state-owned lands.
Senate committee assignments likely will not be announced before the legislative session opens Jan 14.