|Restored/improved salmon habitat on farm near Monroe, WA
AFT, in partnership with several local organizations and public agencies, has completed a report—Creating Stronger Incentives for Private Lands Conservation in Washington—that suggests several creative new ways to help the environment on private lands in the Washington. “We’ve taken a big step to help the environment and provide tools to help private farmers and forest landowners stay in business,” says Don Stuart, AFT's Pacific Northwest Director.
Environmental regulation may daunt farmers, but improving the environment does not have to be an economic burden for them. Farmers have the tools to sequester carbon, improve water quality, and steward America’s natural landscapes, and many are already making these positive environmental impacts. In a recent discussion paper, The Impact of Environmental Regulation on Washington’s Agriculture [PDF], AFT’s Pacific Northwest Director, Don Stuart, explores challenges related to agriculture and the environment, and he presents three opportunities for tackling environmental issues and improving economic outcomes in the agricultural sphere. Not only can farming be part of the solution to environmental degradation, preserving farmland is integral to protecting our environment.
American Farmland Trust and the Maryhill Museum of Art of Goldendale, WA partnered to present the first ever Sustaining Change on the American Farm: An Artist-Farmer Exchange. Twelve artists were selected to live on twelve farms located across Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
AFT developed Farm-City Forums with the US Conference of Mayors to bring together rural and urban leaders. The forums explored how farms and cities depend on each other for survival and how rural and urban residents can partner to improve the whole community's quality of life.
Local citizens are now taking steps to implement recommendations from the forums. In Pierce, forum participants have created 12 task forces to improve the quality of urban and rural life through such efforts as supporting a local PDR program and addressing regulatory barriers that make it difficult for farmers to sell directly to the public. Another task force is working to create a new high-volume farmers' market at the state's largest transit center, a project in which AFT could play a role in outreach and fiscal sponsorship.
In Snohomish County, forum participants called for a strategic plan to guide the economic development of local agriculture, and the regional office will submit a proposal to help complete this plan.
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