County Council is not anti-farming

When one makes accusations, one needs to be accurate. This is not the case with the Wednesday letter accusing the Snohomish County Council of being “anti-farming.”

Executive Aaron Reardon touts his priority based budgets. But what was the first thing he proposed to cut in the coming year? The Conservation District that the writer sees as so important to agriculture. It was Councilman John Koster who met with the Conservation District leaders, rallied the support of the County Council, and put $110,000 back in the budget.

Regarding the manner in which Planning and Development Services (PDS) enforces code violations, it is a fact that PDS works under the direction of Reardon, not the council. The writer needs to bring her complaints to Reardon’s doorstep and Koster would be happy to join her at that meeting.

Regarding efforts to rezone lands at Island Crossing and Harvey Airfield – it is a fact that not one acre of designated farmland has been lost to commercial development under the current County Council.

The writer should be, however, alarmed to know that we are losing hundreds of acres of designated farmland each year in the name of conservation. Prime farmland is being converted to wetlands (more than 2,000 acres since mid ’90s) and forests.

As Dale Reiner (past Farm Bureau president) wrote in the Seattle Times Aug. 17, “The wetland-reserve program, for example, is currently doing more harm than good to the Snohomish County agriculture infrastructure by removing entire farms from production and into wetlands; these farms will never be allowed to return to farmland.”

As someone concerned with saving farmland, perhaps the writer should work toward halting or reigning in some of these programs, instead of broadcasting inaccurate information about the council.

Larry Stickney

Legislative aide to John Koster

Snohomish County Council

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