Victory! Two years ago American Farmland
Trust joined Futurewise, PCC
Farmland Trust, Tahoma Audubon, and Friends of Pierce County in an appeal to
prevent a major new subdivision and shopping mall - Orton Junction -
built on 182 acres of high-quality farmland in Pierce
County, just south of Tacoma. American Farmland Trust and partners won
the first round, but the developer and the city of Sumner appealed the
to the Washington Superior Court. Earlier this week the developer and
city dropped their appeal. "We'd prefer to stay out of the courts," said
Dennis Canty, American Farmland Trust's Northwest regional director,
"But every once in a while a big project on farmland makes it through
planning stages and a legal challenge is necessary. This is one of those
times and we're happy with the win."
American Farmland Trust recently unveiled a new
farmland protection in the Puget Sound region of western Washington. The
site explains some of the most effective tools for protecting farmland
easements and zoning and includes links to briefing materials, studies
ordinances developed by agencies and organizations in the Northwest.
"We're excited to get this information out to planners, elected
officials, and advocates in the region and look forward to suggestions
the current content and useful additions," said site developer Joe
of the American Farmland Trust Northwest office. The website is part of
Farmland Trust's ongoing Farmland Forever campaign that seeks to protect
additional 100,000 acres of farmland in the Puget Sound region by 2018.
Farmland Trust and a coalition of other
farmland organizations have drafted an Executive Order for consideration
by Washington Governor Inslee. If adopted, the Executive Order would
require that state
agencies compensate for farmland losses associated with their projects
paying into a fund that would protect farmland or reestablish farm use
elsewhere. The requirement would apply to all projects supported by
permitting, financing or other assistance. "We got a good reception
to the idea yesterday in a meeting with Director Bud Hover of the
Department of Agriculture," said Dennis Canty, "And we'll be
discussing the idea with farmers and farm organizations throughout the
the coming weeks."
American Farmland Trust and the Pierce County Agricultural Roundtable hosted workshops on
land use planning and incentives to promote agriculture in Pierce County,
Washington, in November and December as part of an intensive technical
assistance program aimed at improving the county's planning and zoning for
is once thriving, now rebuilding, agricultural industry. American Farmland
Trust is working with counties around Puget Sound to adapt their comprehensive
plans to support farms and farmers as part of the Farmland Forever campaign. "Counties
are where the action is on protecting farms and supporting farm
businesses," said Robin Fay, American Farmland Trust project manager, "We're
excited to work with the Pierce County Executive and Council on ways to build a better
future for the county's farmers."
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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