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December 01, 2022: Working the Land: Tools and Resources for Farmers Webinar

Agriculture is a billion dollar industry for Washington state,  and supporting small farmers is a critical component if we are to grow this industry with an equity lens. Join Cristina Rodríguez with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Employment Standards Program, Mike Peroni with the Northwest Agriculture Business Center, and María Rodríguez with Vizions Economic Development Center in Yakima for a discussion about resources available for small farmers.

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OUR SPEAKERS: 

Cristina Rodríguez has worked at the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries since 2018 as the Agricultural Employment Specialist supervising the Farm Labor Unit of the Employment Standards Program. Her team provides technical guidance to Washington’s agricultural sector along with multicultural education and outreach services statewide. In addition, her team is responsible for administering the Washington State farm labor contractor licensing system and the Farm Internship Program, and ensuring compliance with the applicable rules and regulations by conducting onsite visits to entities engaged in farm labor and forestation. Cristina holds a BA in Political Science and Law, Diversity & Justice and an MPA in Public Policy. Cristina lives in Olympia and enjoys spending her time in nature, hiking, cycling, kayaking, and traveling.

María Rodríguez started her career at RCDR after participating in a Youth Financial Fitness Internship program, where she learned about non-profits, business plan development and assistance, and business financing. After her internship, she continued to work while she attended college to obtain her degree in Business Administration. During her time at RCDR, she continued to assist low-income entrepreneurs in the rural Central WA. She was then invited to participate in the NALCAB’s Pete Garcia Fellowship Program in 2012 which gave her the tools to further her career. In 2016 she was appointed as Executive Director and was promoted to CEO in 2020. Since becoming the CEO, she has grown the organization to over $8M in loan capitalization to assist low-income entrepreneurs to start or expand their business ventures. Her goals moving forward are to continue advocating for underserved, immigrant and low-income entrepreneurs in rural Central WA to achieve their dreams of starting or expanding their microenterprise, assisting farmworkers become farm owners, and assist with the civic integration of immigrants with its newest program Center for Legal Immigration Services.

​​Mike Peroni is the Executive Director of the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC). NABC provides business development and expansion resources and hands-on technical support to farmers and agriculture-related business. Mike has over 30 years of experience in leadership roles in regional agriculture in western Washington, and extensive knowledge of agricultural business formation and management, brand support, public/private partnerships, market development, and regulatory compliance.  As the leader of a team dedicated to developing and implementing creative solutions to the challenges facing agriculture in western Washington, Mike and his team facilitate the organizational development and ongoing management of producer owned cooperatives; provide hands-on technical assistance in the development of agricultural infrastructure; and manage multiple complex and ambitious grants serving the agricultural community of western Washington.

This webinar is presented by the Washington State Microenterprise Association in partnership with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries for Employer Outreach and Education, Vizions Economic Development Center and the Northwest Agriculture Business Center.