Rep. Chris Corry’s bill seeks compensation for ranchers and farmers whose land leases are terminated by DNR

Rep. Chris Corry, R-Yakima, has introduced legislation for the 2020 session that would provide compensation to ranchers and farmers whose land leases are terminated early by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

“This bill is the culmination of months of hard work and numerous meetings with the Department of Natural Resources,” said Corry. “We brought together various groups representing farmers and ranchers to ensure their needs were heard. The result is a solution that benefits everyone. This bill protects land lessee's rights and DNR's interest in finding the highest and best use of the land.”

Ranchers and farmers lease more than 1.1 million acres of state trust lands. State agriculture and grazing leases typically run 10 years or more. Sometimes, a flat rate based on the crops grown by the lessee is the cost for the use of the land.

Because the revenue generated from state trust lands provides funding for K-12 school construction and other projects throughout the state, DNR has an interest in leasing to tenants who produce high revenues.  According to state law, DNR can use a non-default termination to replace a lessee with a higher-revenue tenant.

When the early termination of a land lease occurs, farmers and ranchers often face financial challenges. 

House Bill 2498 specifies that the state would be responsible for reimbursing ranchers and farmers for some of those losses, including infrastructure investments made on the land such as fencing and other improvements.

Corry says helping farmers and ranchers through this process is the right thing to do. 

“These folks put food on our tables. We need to do our best to prioritize their interests and livelihoods,” continued Corry.

The 60-day 2020 legislative session began Monday, Jan. 13.


Washington State House Republican Communications