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Losing Ground: About the Study and Findings

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In Losing Ground, we seek to answer three questions:

  • What would a good farmland protection program look like?
  • What is the current state of farmland protection in the region?
  • What can counties do to strengthen their farmland protection programs?

We begin by identifying the characteristics of a strong county program in terms of the four pillars of farmland protection: Blueberry bushes in the Skagitt Valley

  • Land use regulation and zoning
  • Purchase and transfer of development rights
  • Property tax relief
  • Economic development

Each of these essential elements is explained in detail based on local information and experience gained from our 30-year history working on local farmland protection programs.

These elements were evaluated in each of the 12 Puget Sound counties through an analysis of public documents and follow-up interviews with public officials. A scorecard was compiled for each county. While some counties fared better than others in the scoring, none are perfectly good or perfectly bad. All are stepping up to the challenge in important ways. Download the methodology for the county-by-county assessment.

Summaries of County Assessments

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American Farmland Trust