Army Corp & WDFW wants to flood thousands of acres of Washington farmland, but forgot to ask the farmers about it
This is some of the most beautiful and productive farmland in the state. It is used to grow seed potatoes in Whatcom County. Seed potatoes require land that is well prepared and isolated. The Army Corps of Engineers and Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife are planning on flooding about 800 acres of this land. The plan also calls for removing drainage ditches--essential for farming. This could cost an addition 2500 acres of prime farmland.
They say the loss of farmland is "insignificant." Maybe to them. But farmers can't farm without farmland. There is no more farmland to be had in Whatcom County. You don't manufacture it out of thin air. What is left, less than 100,000 acres, is increasingly precious and increasingly expensive. Top notch berry land goes for about $35,000 per acre. This plan would remove about 3% of Whatcom County's remaining farmland--an absolutely irreplaceable loss in an area where farm viability is teetering.
Farmers are very concerned about environmental protection, restoration and fish habitat. But, this plan directly contradicts the Puget Sound Partnerships Action Agenda (read Section A.3 which calls for measures to protect farmland by protecting the economic viability of farmers!).
Capital Press did an excellent job of covering this story. One thing the Army Corp and Fish and Wildlife should know right now--farmers will not support this misguided misuse of taxpayer's money.
Mr. Jung offered advice to the Department of Ecology and Governor Inslee about regulating our state's dairy farms. He wrote a letter to the editor of the Olympian calling on more regulations because of the number of cows in our state and the manure they produce. Hmm, the 7 million humans in our state produce a lot more--maybe we need to regulate them out as well.
Cows polluting our water and politicians sit on their handsErik Jung, Olympia
When it come to the question of what’s been damaging the quality of Washington’s water there’s not an elephant in the room that politicians have been ignoring, but a giant heard of cows.
Washington state has 200,000 dairy cows that create 24 million pounds of unregulated manure daily, which goes on to pollute our water and sicken our people. Unfortunately, The Department of Ecology and Gov. Jay Inslee have been missing-in-action when it comes to protecting our streams, waterways and drinking water supplies from these large concentrated animal operations. Toxic nitrates that flow out of these operations and into our water supplies can cause birth defects and other public health issues, yet the Department of Ecology is still proposing a do-nothing concentrated animal operations permit that won’t protect people or the environment.
Gov. Inslee and Ecology need to think more about protecting the health of Washingtonians and less about the interests of the huge factory farms sickening our people and polluting our waterways.
Here was the response we offered in a letter to the editor sent Oct 4:
Erik Jung’s letter on October 2 calls for more regulations on dairy farms. He says we have 200,000 dairy cows producing 24 million pounds of unregulated manure. Well, we have over seven million people in our state who produce about 2.6 billion pounds of “manure.” But, cow manure like human is contained and its use heavily regulated. Current laws mandate “zero discharge” of manure, requiring storage and safe application as organic fertilizer.
“Huge factory farms”? Over 95% of our state’s farms are family owned. Our average dairy herd size is about one half the national average. “Public health issues”? While nitrates are still limited in drinking water, even EPA scientists dispute the 1940s science that linked high nitrates to infant illness. Heart-healthy diets promote vegetables high in nitrates.
Mr. Jung wants stronger state regulations but he is misinformed on current regulations which are among strictest in the nation. Adding more will hurt our family farmers and drive many out. Does Mr. Jung want to accelerate the conversion of farmland to urban sprawl? It’s happening fast already. He needs to get out and visit a farm to see what our family farmers are doing to protect our environment.
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