Letter to Everett Herald from Skagit dairy farmer raises questions about Rep. Larsen's concern for farmers and farming
Representative Rick Larsen has served citizens of Northwest Washington in Congress for seventeen years. It appears he can continue in this position for as long as he wants given his electoral history.
Whatcom and Skagit counties, which include areas in Representative Larsen's 2nd District, hosts most of the remaining farmland and farmers in Puget Sound. The future of farming here is under continual threat (as can be seen by the savefamilyfarming website.) The question is, can we count on our elected representative in Congress to help and support farmers?
As the letter to the Everett Herald submitted November 22 by Skagit dairy farmer Jason VanderKooy suggests, the answer is far from clear. As leader of Skagit Family Farmers VanderKooy and other leading farmers in Whatcom and Skagit counties have reached out repeatedly on critical issues such as What's Upstream, PSNRP, the Swinomish jurisdiction overreach, and others. There has been no assistance offered, and in most cases, the efforts to reach our representative have been met with silence or even curtness.
We expect more.
Farmers expect more from Representative Larsen
Guest editorial to Everett Herald submitted November 22, 2017
Published by Everett Herald December 15, 2017
Our longtime representative in Congress, Rick Larsen, represents many farmers who steward some of the most valuable and important farmland in the state. The Puget Sound Partnership’s Action Agenda makes it clear that keeping our farms viable using productive farmland is one of the most important things we can do for the environment in Western Washington.
But over the past few years, our efforts to seek help from our representative seem to have fallen on deaf ears. We asked for help when farmers were confronted with the vicious, taxpayer funded attack called “What’s Upstream.” Larsen refused to sign a bipartisan letter to the EPA Director expressing concern that 145 of his Congressional colleagues signed. He even refused any public comment in support of farmers. He worked for and took credit for getting Congress to support a nearly half billion dollar project called Puget Sound Nearshore Restoration Project. This called for farmers to sell irreplaceable farmland – but Larsen never bothered to ask farmers what they thought of this. He voted against a bill in 2016 aimed at preventing the EPA from spending money on another taxpayer-funded attack on farmers. When Skagit farmers were threatened by an effort of the Swinomish tribe to greatly expand their jurisdiction, he curtly rejected our request for help.
Farmers and those who care about keeping our farmers need a representative in DC who is aware of our concerns, listens and does what he or she can to help. We still hope that can be our current representative.