Is Kitsap Planning a Future for Farms?

Encourage Public Appreciation for Agriculture

Does Kitsap County…

…support farm festivals, fairs and other events that encourage public appreciation for agriculture?
Most Washingtonians did not grow up on a farm, and many have never visited a farm. Giving people a chance to learn about farming and celebrate local farms is an important, and enjoyable, learning experience!

… host tours, farmer forums or events aimed at educating local, state and federal officials about agriculture?
Public officials are key players in deciding the future of farming in Washington. It’s important that these leaders have the chance to learn about agriculture and better understand how they can support farming in their role as community leaders.

…regularly distribute information about agriculture to the media?
The media is a key ally in educating the public about the importance of agriculture and issues facing local farmers. Providing statistics, perspectives and resources to local media can generate informed coverage of agricultural issues. 

…support efforts to educate children about their food and how it is grown?
Educating kids about eating healthy food is critical to solving many public health problems and ensuring that future generations appreciate the importance of local farms.

…celebrate excellence in local agriculture?
The contributions made by farmers to the local economy, environment and community are often overlooked. Awards, media events and other efforts to recognize these contributions help encourage local farmers, while reinforcing the many benefits that agriculture provides to Washington communities.

…provide resources to municipalities about local agriculture?
Counties can provide important data, maps and other information to towns that are looking for information. Cost of Community Services studies, economic reports, land use maps and other resources that are provided by counties can help municipalities make informed decisions.


Strengthen Economic Opportunities for Farmers and Related Businesses

Does Kitsap County…

…treat farms as businesses?
Agriculture supports thousands of jobs across Washington. Food processors and other agribusinesses are also critical parts of the state’s economy. These farm and food businesses should be treated like other sectors of the economy and provided with business planning services, financing and other incentives to retain and expand jobs in these industries.

…support “buy local” campaigns that encourage people to purchase food and farm products produced nearby?
Consumers can have a big impact on the bottom line of many farmers by choosing to buy local farm products. Buy local marketing campaigns can educate people about the benefits of local products and how they can be purchased.

…facilitate connections between farmers and area restaurants, schools, hospitals and other institutions?
Public and private institutions that purchase local farm products can make a real difference in the farm economy due to the scale of their purchasing power. Encouraging, or requiring, local food purchasing by institutions can help keep food dollars in a community and magnify the impact of this spending.

…incorporate agritourism into tourism promotions?
Farms are not only a beautiful part of Washington’s scenic landscape; many also offer enjoyable experiences for families and tourists. U-pick farms, corn mazes, pumpkin patches, horse riding, wine tasting and other on-farm experiences should be marketed along with other area tourism activities.


Encourage Long-term Viability of Farming and Food Production

Does Kitsap County…

…support agricultural education programs such as FFA, 4-H and other workforce development programs for farmers and farm workers?
Such programs not only teach young people important leadership skills, they ensure a skilled workforce for area farms and related businesses.

…make agriculture a priority in local and regional economic development strategies?
Too often, agriculture is overlooked as a major component of the economy in Western Washington. Local and regional economic development strategies should make farm and food jobs a priority and identify strategies for retaining existing jobs and expanding new jobs in these sectors. 

…encourage farmers to participate in Washington’s environmental stewardship programs?
Encouraging environmentally sound stewardship of soil, water and other natural resources will encourage a healthy environment and better opportunities for future generations of farmers. 

…have a current agricultural and farmland protection plan and annually review progress towards accomplishing its recommendations?
Counties should make an ongoing commitment of time and resources to developing and implementing agricultural and farmland protection plans to direct county action in support of local farms and protecting irreplaceable farmland.


Support Positive Relationships Between Farmers and Others in Your Community

Does Kitsap County…

…support trainings and dialogue about agricultural issues among assessors, code enforcement officers, sheriff, police and other local staff that interact with farmers?
Farming has unique circumstances that frequently require alternative rules, regulations or approaches than other businesses and land uses. Public officials need to understand these unique circumstances and applicable regulations and apply them fairly to farm businesses.

…support Washington’s Agricultural Districts program and update districts on a regular basis?
The Agricultural Districts program is one of Washington’s oldest farmland protection tools, and it provides important right-to-farm protections to Washington farmers. Counties should keep districts current and use the renewal process as an opportunity to engage local officials about issues facing farmers in these districts.

…offer trainings for city councils, county commissioners and others about the Agricultural Districts law and its “unreasonably restrictive local ordinance” provision?
Washington’s Agricultural Districts law requires that local governments not be unreasonably restrictive

in regulating farmers operating in state certified agricultural districts. The Washington State Right to Farm Laws has developed guidance for local governments about how this standard applies to a variety of topics related to agriculture. Local governments are well-advised to use these guidance documents and contact the state prior to adopting new regulations that could impact agriculture.

… encourage municipal governments to make agriculture a priority in local comprehensive plans, zoning ordinances and other land use plans?
Thoughtful siting of new houses and developments, buffers between new houses and neighboring farms, and other planning measures can help prevent future conflicts between farmers and neighbors.

…have a right-to-farm law?
Local right-to-farm laws can be an important statement in support of agriculture, while also establishing strategies for preventing and addressing conflicts between farmers and non-farm neighbors. These laws can reinforce protections provided by Washington’s Agricultural Districts program, while offering additional planning and dispute resolution measures that can prevent misunderstandings from becoming expensive conflicts.


Protect Agricultural Land and Keep It Actively Farmed

Does Kitsap County…

…educate farmers and landowners about estate and farm transfer planning?
The process of transferring a farm from one generation to another is a complicated endeavor. Without proper planning, the transfer process can result in unnecessary taxes, family conflict or other complications that can push a farm into being developed.

…pro-actively steer new water, sewer and road infrastructure towards cities and away from priority farming areas?
Building such infrastructure in farming areas sends a strong signal that farming has a limited future and that new non-farm development is expected. If infrastructure expansions are necessary, be sure to establish mitigation measures, such as lateral restrictions, to limit the spread of development on productive farmland.

…help farmers and landowners who want to permanently protect their land?
Since the 1970s,Washington counties have played an important role in protecting farms from being lost to development. Some counties have provided funding to purchase conservation easements on farms, while others have facilitated such projects in partnership with local land trusts and municipalities. While the approach may differ, all county governments can help ensure that farmland is protected for future generations.

…act as a resource for planning and zoning boards?
County governments can be a key ally for municipal governments that are considering zoning, subdivision or other codes related to agriculture.  Counties can provide maps, statistics and other resources to support informed decision-making at a local level.