Local farmers voice their concerns at public meeting led by stat - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Local farmers voice their concerns at public meeting led by state senators

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RICHLAND, WA - Three state senators held a public meeting to hear the concerns of local farmers and agricultural professionals. 

Reporter Rex Carlin was at the meeting this afternoon at The Reach in Richland and learned that there are three main concerns: access to proper amounts of water for their farms, which has been a contentious point for a while now; the new minimum wage increase, a problem they'll now have to deal with; and a third issue that transcends the farming community.

Two state senators and a couple members of the public say that many issues, including the problems these farmers are facing, come down to rural versus urban and suburban legislators in Olympia.

They say senators, representatives, and judges from more populated areas don't understand the constant problems farmers are facing to be able to stay profitable.

"They brought up water issues that are so important to agriculture," said Washington State Senator Jim Honeyford. "We've had several court decisions over the years that seem to keep ratcheting down the availability of water."

Also mentioned today was the meeting this coming Monday in Pasco run by The Army Corps of Engineers, The Bureau of Reclamation, and Bonneville Power Administration to get public feedback on federal hydropower projects in the area.

Four Snake River dams are included in those projects, and there has been a debate for years both for and against removing those dams.

The reasons the people at the meeting today find the Monday meeting so important is because they say removing the dams will take away the ability to transport their products via barge.

They say it won't be economically or infrastructurally feasible for everyone to transport via train and truck, making it even tougher on farmers.