Advocacy

SnoValley Tilth represents sustainable, local farming in our farm-positive policy advocacy efforts:

We hold the vegetable producers’ seat on the Regional Food Policy Council and are working with that body to assure sustainable food and fiber production are supported in the region’s long-term planning strategies.

SnoValley Tilth also supports the Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance in the formation of a Watershed Improvement District to bring much needed help to the difficult problems of water rights, water supply and agricultural drainage.

We stay engaged with issues discussed by our King County Agriculture Commission, the advisory body to the county council and the county executive on agricultural issues.

Read about the 2014 US Farm Bill, and how it impacts communities: 2014 Farm Bill

Learn about Farm-to-School programs across WA state: Farm to School

Find out more about Washington’s Agriculture program and farm impacts during the legislative session: WA Agriculture

We also strive to stay engaged with county issues affecting small, sustainable farmers. Read below for the letter recently written by the SVT Board of Directors requesting a pause in the Farm, Fish, Flood Advisory Committee meeting schedule to accommodate the growing season and to achieve more complete farm interest representation: _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

May 6, 2015

Joan Lee
Rural and Regional Services Section Manager
King County Water and Land Resources Division
201 S. Jackson Street, Suite 600
Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Joan Lee,

Many thanks for the thorough responses you sent to our president Luke Woodward on April 3rd. We appreciate your offer to further discuss our concerns about the FFF process and proposed activities. Generally, we feel that input from farmers during this process has not been given the time or attention required for a fully informed discussion. However, the growing season has begun and we request that all meetings and decisions be postponed until November 1, 2015.

Our member farmers report that they were assured that FFF meetings would be limited during the growing season. Asking them to spend hours and hours on this process right now means that they are not spending that time raising food to feed the community (and their families). The decisions being made will have a significant impact on our APD and any farmland lost will likely be lost forever. We want to make sure that these decisions are made with adequate public involvement and time for consideration.

In the interest of being transparent and continuing our discussion, please see below for a list of our requests. It would be helpful to us as a farming community if these tools for education and understanding were available by November.
–          We would like a greater opportunity for our sounding board groups and individual property owners to meet with and instruct our farmer representatives on the FFF panel, as planned toward the beginning of the FFF process in 2014.
–          We would like meetings with the county and fish representatives to involve a much higher percentage of the farm property owners in the proposed project areas. Currently we have observed involvement from only about 25 of the 180 farms in the valley. It is our belief that most property owners and many farmers are unaware of the decisions being made through this process and the likely impacts of those decisions on their livelihoods and industry for decades into the future.
–          We would like a more clear understanding of landowner willingness to dedicate land to habitat restoration or to keep or enter land into agricultural production. This would help gauge the potential success of the planned FFF activities.
–          We would like the hydrologic studies being conducted to be completed and yield an improved understanding of the flood irregularities that occurred during the 2014-2015 flood season events. These are directly relevant to all flood mitigation concerns in this valley.
–          We would like to have a better understanding of exactly how much farmland we have, where it is, and what its relative quality is. Farmland should be seen as a resource for feeding our population, particularly in the context of climate change. We would like to see this translated into public education formats that are presented alongside the materials presented on fish habitat and flood protection activities.
–          We would like a clear articulation of the conflicts as defined for the decisions proposed in the FFF process. We would like these conflict statements to be mutually agreed upon so that we are all working from the same problem definitions when deciding on solutions, such as whether a cap on total farmland rededicated to habitat is appropriate. For example, the recognition that high ground, often valuable for riparian buffers, is also likely the most valuable for farm productivity (because the soil is workable for a longer growing season) as well as for protection of crops and equipment from flooding. Another example is an acknowledgement of the likely impact on properties neighboring voluntary restoration projects.

The following requests were mentioned in Luke Woodward’s letter. We repeat them here so that they do not get lost in the shuffle.
–          Spending and staff time allocated to wildlife-related restoration projects greatly outpaces that which is spent and allocated to food and fiber-related support and projects. We would like this difference in spending and time equalized.
–          Food and fiber production farms should get priority over equine and other recreation-related farms when it comes to installing farm pads and/or raising buildings.
–          Farmland protection should have a higher ranking in the King County Flood Control District’s priorities.

Many thanks for your consideration of these requests. We look forward to continuing our discussion in November.

Sincerely,
Hannah Cavendish-Palmer, on behalf of the SnoValley Tilth Board of Directors
Vice President and Policy Committee Chair
SnoValley Tilth

CC: King County Executive, King County Council, King County Agriculture Commission