April 20, 2016 Wendy Harris
Our policies for agriculture need substantial revision at the federal, state and local level. We are subsidizing the most affluent farmers who cause the greatest ecological harm. We are not adequately regulating farm activities based on objective, scientific review and we have allowed the farm lobby to grow too powerful and exert too much influence on policies and regulations.
We need to do more to help small, independent operations.. farmers who are trying to grow organic produce to feed people, farmers who are experimenting with new ways to farm and restore soil or follow the practices of indigenous peoples.
And most of all, we must push back strongly, at the local level, at any attempts to reduce standards in the Critical Area Ordinance. Even the status quo is unacceptable. We need more transparency, accountability and science based regulatory standards. The Best Management Practices in place through the NRCS, a branch of the USDA, supported by the Whatcom Conservation District, are being used as a substitute for the best available science required under state law.
Will you be ready next Thursday? That is when the county planning commission will be “reviewing” the farm plan provisions. To date, this review has consisted of little more rubber stamping what the staff recommends, with occasional lapses to less protective standards.