steady hard rain, more than 50 volunteers turned out to plant trees on farms
along the Snoqualmie River on September 28 during American Farmland Trust’s Snoqualmie
Food, Farms and Forests Day. More than
1,200 trees and shrubs, many donated by local nurseries, were planted. Most of
the crew stuck around for a pizza lunch at historic Camp Korey, a large dairy
farm that is the former headquarters of the Carnation dairy empire. "The
strong interest in the event by the volunteers, sponsors and landowners shows
a huge commitment to conservation efforts on farmland," said Christy Carr,
conservation program manager in the Pacific Northwest region.
Farmland Trust has been working for the last year on ways to increase the
effectiveness of conservation incentives to meet water quality and habitat
goals. In several pilot watersheds, American Farmland Trust staff has developed
GIS-based tools to identify promising places in farm landscapes to invest in
habitat and water quality projects, worked with other agencies and
organizations to leverage funding in these areas and helped farmers access the
funding programs. The result has been the restoration of more than 5 miles
of rivers and streams. This fall, American Farmland Trust began work with The
Nature Conservancy and other partners to scale up these efforts to the Puget
Sound as a whole. "As long as they are treated fairly, farmers and ranchers
tend to be very supportive of habitat and water quality projects on their land,”
said Dennis Canty, American Farmland Trust’s Pacific Northwest director.
Trust is starting a project to identify the organizations and agencies
involved in the local food movement in Washington state. The diverse
local food community includes groups focused on hunger and emergency
food supplies, farmer recruitment and training, farmland protection, and
other related issues. The success of efforts to build a stronger local
system in Washington state hinge in large part on getting these
independent organizations working
together as a coalition, and the "Who's Who in Local Food" project
aims to take the first step, identifying the players and their missions,
and projects. Expect a publication on the topic this winter.
Farmland protection in Washington
got a major boost this week as Governor Jay
Inslee announced his goals to achieve no net loss of farmland by 2015 and
an increase of more than 100,000 acres of farmland in Washington by 2020. American
Farmland Trust staff are in discussions with the Governor's agricultural
advisors on how to accomplish these goals using policies and programs to
disclose, avoid, minimize and compensate for farmland losses associated with
new development. "No net loss is a bold goal," said Dennis
Canty, AFT’s Pacific Northwest director. "We'd like to help the Governor
get it done."
Following up on American Farmland
Trust’s successful Planning
for Agriculture conference in Seattle in April, the Pacific Northwest staff
are hosting a series of webinars on planning and zoning for agriculture in the
Northwest. The webinars, which are scheduled to start in October, will address
topics such as how to construct an effective zoning ordinance and how to
accommodate agritourism in rural areas. "Every eight years, counties
around Washington update their comprehensive plans," says Robin Fay,
project manager in the Pacific Northwest office, "This is a great
opportunity to improve county policies and programs for farms, farmers and
American Farmland Trust’s Pioneers in
Conservation initiative, a grants program supporting farmers using conservation
practices in key environmental areas, has recently been awarded matching funds
from the Washington
Department of Ecology's Centennial Program for work in the
Projects selected for funding through the Centennial Program reflect
highest priority water quality projects across the state. American
Farmland Trust partnered with the Chelan County Natural Resources
Department to apply for funding, ranking eighth out of nearly 70
projects. "Such a high ranking shows the value of our participation in
and the recognition of the important role that farmland can play in
water quality and riparian habitat," said Christy Carr, American
Trust’s Pioneers in Conservation Program Manager. The $216,050 in
coupled with American Farmland Trust's $35,000 in grant funding from
the National Fish and Wildlife
Federation, will be used to address various water quality
impairments in the
Wenatchee River and its tributaries through habitat restoration and
planting projects. American Farmland Trust is assisting Chelan
County with site selection
and landowner outreach and education efforts.
The Washington State Legislature
finally passed a budget for the 2013-15 biennium and it includes $5.3
million for farmland protection, a substantial increase from the $700,000 approved in 2011.
The funding will be used to purchase conservation easements on 14 farms
totaling more than 6,000 acres around Washington State. American Farmland
Trust led a coalition of farmers, farm organizations, and environmentalists to
support the appropriation. "This is the first big success of our
Farmland Forever campaign," said Dennis Canty, Pacific Northwest Director
for AFT. "We're very proud to have played our part in a substantial
increase in funding for farms and farmers." American Farmland Trust's Farmland Forever campaign aims to protect 70,000 additional acres of Puget Sound region farmland in large lot exclusive agricultural zoning in the next five years.
Recently, American Farmland Trust kicked off our
program to help cities and counties in Washington’s Puget Sound enact land use
plans and zoning to protect farmland. We anticipate providing workshops,
publications, and one-on-one assistance to planners and public officials
beginning this summer. The effort follows on the very successful
conference hosted by AFT in April on this topic. Robin Fay and Joe Basile
are leading the project in the Pacific Northwest office.
The State Legislature’s approval over the weekend of a budget that
includes $65 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program
(WWRP) is a big victory for the state’s family farms, according to
American Farmland Trust. Farmland projects will receive $5.3 million
from the WWRP, a major boost from the $700,000 approved in 2011.
Find out more about this win for farmland protection.
Dennis Canty, Pacific Northwest
Director for American Farmland Trust, and other regional staff are meeting with farm
advocates in all of the counties around Puget Sound in June and July as part of
a strategic effort to improve planning and zoning for agriculture in the
region. “These meetings present a great opportunity to discuss local
issues and concerns that impact farmland conservation and to frame our
technical assistance program,” explains Canty. This work is part of American
Farmland Trust’s Farmland Forever campaign, which aims to protect 70,000
additional acres of Puget Sound region farmland in large lot exclusive
agricultural zoning in the next five years.
Jackie Dagger, a recent addition to the
Pacific Northwest office, will be making the rounds at farmers markets and
festivals this summer to introduce American Farmland Trust and our work with
farms, farmers and local food in the region. Stop by and say hello to
Jackie if you see her at your local market. And don’t forget to pledge
to celebrate your favorite farmers markets this summer.
Washington State Legislature is getting close to approving a budget for
the 2013-15 period and funding for farmland protection
could be zeroed out. Since 2005, the
Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) has been the principal
source for farmland easements. If the legislature
passes a budget with less than $40 million for WWRP—a proposal currently
supported by the state Senate—no funding would be available for
farmland protection. Please
contact your state Senator and Representatives today. Urge them to support at
least $70 million for WWRP to secure $5.8 million for farmland protection in
this year’s budget.
up on the Planning for Agriculture in the Puget Sound conference, American
Farmland Trust has started a planners work group to help people working on
updating county policies and plans for farming. Under Washington's Growth Management Act,
counties are required to update their comprehensive plans every five
the next update will happen in 2014-15. "This is a great opportunity
to upgrade agricultural zoning and revise polices that have a big impact
farming," said Dennis Canty, Pacific Northwest Director for American
Farmland Trust. "Several counties already do a great job with planning
agriculture. We'd like to bring all twelve up to their standard." A
series of workshops and publications is sheduled for this summer and
fall. To find out more information or to participate in the work group,
contact Dennis at email@example.com.
Farmland Trust recently joined with a group of local farmers and farm advocates
to protect farmland zoning in Pierce County, Washington. Citing a
conflict between criteria and mapping, county planners had proposed dropping
more than 11,000 acres of farmland from agricultural zoning, roughly half of
the zoned farmland in the county. After sending a letter to and meeting
with County Executive Pat McCarthy, she agreed to delay further action until
the upcoming comprehensive plan update—a small victory but an important
one. The next step for American Farmland Trust is to work with the county
staff on changes that resolve the criteria/mapping problem but in a way that
protects the county's endangered farm industry.
A group of national and regional experts gathered in Seattle on April 26 to discuss how to save family farms and local food around Puget Sound. The conference featured presentations on what local governments and citizen groups can do to support local farms and food, including land use planning, supporting local food markets, and transferring development rights from farm areas into cities. “We’re at a crossroads on local farms and food,” said AFT Pacific Northwest Director Dennis Canty, “We can save our local food supply, but only if we work together to protect our farmland and support our local farmers.” The conference was part of AFT’s Farmland Forever campaign that aims to protect another 100,000 acres of farmland through land use planning and purchases of development rights by 2018.
Learn more about the discussion topics and download presentations.
Seats are filling fast for American
Farmland Trust’s April 26 conference on planning for agriculture in the Puget
Sound region. The American Planning
Association, Forterra and the Cascade Harvest Coalition have signed on as
cosponsors, and speakers from Pennsylvania, Vermont and
California have been confirmed. Readers who are interested should register soon.
Farmland Trust and a group of local conservation and farmland organizations
have banded together to fight the re-zoning of more than 11,500 acres of
farmland in Pierce County, Washington. The county has very stringent criteria for designating farmland in its Agricultural
Resource Land (ARL) zone and now contends that half of the land mapped in
this zone doesn’t meet the criteria. “If the land is dropped from the ARL zone,
it will be far more vulnerable to suburban development,” said Dennis Canty, Pacific
Northwest director for American Farmland Trust. “This must be stopped now.”
American Farmland Trust is requesting a two-year delay while a study can be
done of the appropriate zoning for all of the county’s 45,000 acres of
February 13, American Farmland Trust organized a group of farmers and farmland
advocates to lobby the Washington legislature for an increase in funding for farmland
conservation easements. We met with more than 60 legislators to
encourage them to support an increase of $7.7 million in the farmland
account. The funding would be used for
22 projects that would collectively protect more than 7,300 acres of
farmland. While it will be another tough
budget year, there is widespread support for farms and farmers in the
legislature that we hope to use to secure the additional funding.
Farmland Trust staff in the Pacific Northwest are preparing for a conference on
planning for agricultural in the Puget Sound region that will be held in late
April. “Our aim is to get local planners and officials up to speed on what they
can do to protect farms, farmers, and local food,” said Ele Watts, lead staff
on the project. The team is now identifying speakers who can both inform and
inspire on the topic. Call or write the
office (206-860-4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have ideas.
Northwest office released the Western Washington Foodshed Study in mid-December, followed by
several media interviews and two presentations to the Regional Food Policy
Council. The study is the final result
of a two-quarter graduate school course at the University of Washington and
considerable work by a 12-member advisory committee. The study concludes that farmers in the
region are currently producing about one-quarter of what is eaten here, but a
variety of actions at the farmer, processor, retail, and consumer level could
bring the total up above half.
All farmers and ranchers know preparing for the year ahead starts with looking back at the bright spots and challenges from the seasons before. At AFT, we’re proud that in 2012 we rallied farmers and citizens alike to advocate on behalf of protecting farm and ranch land. Our innovative projects helped family farmers pioneer sound farming practices, which help to preserve our land and water resources. We also laid the groundwork to keep farmers on the land by providing tools and resources that allow them to thrive.
We’re sharing accomplishments and inspiration from 2012 in the words of our expert staff.
We have a really significant problem with farmland loss here in the Puget Sound region. We’ve lost about 60 percent of our farmland here since 1950, and of course this is near and dear to our mission as an organization. One of the things I’ve been interested in doing since I got here is to try to develop a strong campaign for farmland preservation in the Puget Sound region, particularly where the rates of loss have been high….We hope that this Farmland Forever campaign is going to result in the protection of more than 100,000 acres of additional farmland here in the region.
Read more from Pacific Northwest Director Dennis Canty
After a year of work, several Washington Counties are one step closer to developing plans for the encouragement of local farms and ranches and the preservation of agricultural lands. Last January, our State’s new Office of Farmland Preservation announced eight grants to counties to help them begin creating farmland preservation programs. Klickitat County, among others, received $25,000 for various projects. Now, the Office of Farmland Preservation is assembling the product of these efforts and is expected to make them public over the coming months – including our new report for the county, Keeping Farmland Available for Klickitat County Agriculture.
“No Farms No Food” is a message understood by nearly everyone, but farms provide more than just the food that sustains us. They also safeguard our natural resources. A recent feasibility study [PDF] by American Farmland Trust found that Washington farm and forest lands provide carbon sequestration, protect water quality and safeguard other environmental resources. The study suggests that ecosystem markets for agriculture could become a Washington reality in the next few years. These markets would encourage farmers to adopt the best conservation practices—and reward them financially for their stewardship. Given the positive results, Washington legislation charged the Washington State Conservation Commission to develop two conservation market pilot projects by December 2009.
Focus on Washington
On the outskirts of Wenatchee, a city in he heart of central Washington where golden hills surround endless miles of fruit orchards, a large apple-shaped sign reads, "Apple Capital of the World." In a region that ships over 100 million boxes of apples a year around the nation and the world, education has been the key to helping growers—especially the valley’s many Latino orchard employees and managers—reduce their use of pesticides. Grower Jesus Limón, who worked his way up the ranks at a fruit company in order to purchase his own Wenatchee Valley orchard, participated in an American Farmland Trust-supported and EPA-funded program that teaches growers in Spanish about integrated pest management. "You get hooked on it," Limon says about the natural techniques for identifying and eliminating orchard pests.
Our blog, The Farmland Report, ran a feature on Washington farmer Jay Gordon. Gordon uses his farmland as a protected habitat for endangered trumpeter swans. Gordon has also been profiled in our Farm and Food Voices section for his groundbreaking work for ecosystem markets in the region.
Pacific Northwest Office
Dennis Canty, Pacific Northwest States Director
1335 N. Northlake Way, Ste. 101