American Farmland Trust's projects in Washington enlist farmers, environmentalists, urbanites and rural dwellers—everybody who must work together if agriculture is to have a chance.
Washington state legislature-tested and Governor-approved: Washington’s new Office of Farmland Preservation has a two-year budget and will focus on many topics, including the development of programs and incentives to help keep farms viable and retain land in agriculture.
It will be a busy start, but this office is the first and best real opportunity yet to lay the foundation for a substantial farmland protection program in the state of Washington.
Bainbridge Island, just a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle, has a rich agricultural history—but the island’s farmland base has declined to several hundred acres, with only 222 acres classified as agriculture for tax purposes. To protect their farmland and keep it economically viable, the city of Bainbridge contracted AFT to complete An Assessment and Recommendations for Preservation and Management of City-owned Agricultural Land [PDF, 1.38MB], a report for the city of Bainbridge Island. AFT’s report analyzed the key public benefits and values of the island’s farmland, evaluated models for protecting the island’s agricultural properties and made recommendations to help improve the viability and long-term prospects for farms.
American Farmland Trust has partnered with Shared Strategy for Puget Sound to create a locally supported “Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Plan” that saves both farms and fish. The draft plan, now under comment from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service (NOAA), contains a section that specifically recognizes the environmental importance of preserving agriculture. The plan presents actions that can be taken to save salmon while also saving farms. When done properly, this can result in a “partnership for farms and salmon” in the Puget Sound, representing a huge step ahead for local farmers.