Washington Takes On Trafficking in Agricultural Supply Chain - FreedomUnited.org

Washington Takes On Trafficking in Agricultural Supply Chain

  • Published on
    March 1, 2019
  • Written by:
    Jamison Liang
  • Category:
    Human Trafficking, Supply Chain
Hero Banner

Retailers in Washington state who do business in Washington and have a worldwide gross receipt of more than $200 million may be required to report on modern slavery in their agricultural supply chains if new legislation gets passed.

Senate Bill 5693, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Saldaña, aims to take on debt bondage and human trafficking in the agriculture industry. It passed from the Labor and Commerce Committee to the Senate Rules Committee on Feb. 21.

Take Action: Help End Forced Labor

“It’s my job, I believe, as a consumer to make sure that I’m asking the hard questions around and supporting industry to be able to help us eradicate slavery and to make sure that people are having their human rights protected and respected,” Saldaña said.

“This is really a step in that direction.”

Many industry leaders are hitting back, however, reports the Columbia Basin Herald:

Carolyn Logue of the Washington Food Industry Association testified in opposition to the bill.

“We think what this will do is create a paperwork nightmare with significant liabilities for a lot of our businesses without dealing really effectively and efficiently with the very real problem of human trafficking and the other problems listed here,” Logue said.

Agricultural product is defined in the bill as cocoa, dairy, coffee, sugar and fruit products. The bill also defines what are not considered agricultural products, which is wheat, potato, onions, asparagus or other vegetable products.

Tom Davis with the Washington Farm Bureau noted that 95 percent of the farms in the state are family farms and that the “accusations” made in this bill towards them are “outrageous.”

“It presupposes that slavery, peonage and human trafficking are taking place on our family farms,” Davis said.

Dan Wood with the Washington State Dairy Federation also condemned the bill, calling it one of the worst bills he has ever seen.

The proposed bill would require companies to disclose human rights violations, to outline how they are addressing the risk of modern slavery, and actions taken to respect workers’ human rights.

If a supplier fails to report this information, it would allow the State Attorney General’s Office to take civil action. Statutory damages could range from $500 to $7,000.

A hearing is not yet scheduled for SB 5693.

Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

Four years on, has Australia's Modern Slavery Act been effective?

An independent review of Australia's Modern Slavery Act has concluded that the legislation is failing to have a significant impact on curbing modern slavery and urges the Australian government to implement recommendations to strengthen the law. The Australian government must act According to the latest Global Slavery Index released by international human rights organization Walk Free, an estimated 50 million people were in situations of modern slavery

| Wednesday May 31, 2023

Read more