Improving the productivity of existing farmland and bringing more land into food production are two of the main objectives of a new Snoqualmie Valley Agriculture Land Resource Strategic Plan that is being developed as part of the historic and innovative Fish, Farm, Flood process (see website here). When completed later this year, the plan will serve as a guide for the agriculture sector in the Snoqualmie Valley and agriculture service providers to implement the priority needs such as drainage improvements, home elevations for flood safety and more. The Plan will also inform future Fish, Farm, Flood decision-making around the agricultural needs of the Valley.
Fish, Farm, Flood background
In 2013, King County Executive Dow Constantine invited representatives from the Snoqualmie Valley to discuss issues that were creating obstacles and conflict around three critical objectives: salmon recovery, flood protection and productive agriculture. Representatives included a cross-section of agricultural, salmon recovery and flood risk reduction interests, as well as tribal, state and local jurisdictions. The goal was to advise King County on how best to achieve the benefits of all three objectives.
These representatives formed a Fish, Farm, Flood agreement to determine how to achieve goals related to farming, salmon recovery, and flood risk reduction, which are competing natural resource priorities on the same land base.
Why is an agricultural strategic plan important for Fish, Farm, Flood?
In 2017, the Fish, Farm, Flood Advisory Committee agreed to a set of more than 30 recommendations that, if implemented, would significantly improve fish habitats while at the same time strengthening the agricultural economy and reducing flood risk. One of those recommendations was the development of an agriculture strategic plan.
The plan’s purpose is to improve the long-term productivity of farmland, bring more acres into food production, and increase opportunities for farmers to develop necessary infrastructure to support or increase their farm businesses. This will happen through assessment of specific farmland resource property needs in the Snoqualmie Valley Agricultural Production District and will include an implementation strategy for project improvements to land (e.g., drainage) and irrigation water supply. The plan will also specifically inform the development of acreage targets for permanently protected farmland and acreage for habitat restoration.
Who is involved in creating the agricultural strategic plan?
“A task force made up of representatives from agriculture organizations, such as the King County Agriculture Commission, Sno-Valley Tilth, Snoqualmie Watershed Improvement District, Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Alliance, Washington State University, and a farmer from the Farm, Fish, Flood Implementation Oversight Committee was formed to help create the recommended plan,” said Patrice Barrentine, King County Agriculture Policy and Economic Development Specialist. “The task force will work with farm organizations and farmers/landowners for input on and support of the proposed plan.”
This fall, the task force will be looking for input through public meetings and written comments, targeting agricultural interest groups, individual farmers, landowners, and other interested parties, before making final recommendations on and adopting the plan by the end of this year.