This afternoon, Governor Inslee signed SB 5947 into law, officially creating the Sustainable Farms and Fields Program.
The product of months of bipartisan collaboration, this voluntary grant program will provide much-needed economic support to WA farmers and ensure that our state remains a leader in climate action as well as agricultural production and innovation.
Thank you to the many partners and stakeholders that have worked so hard to make this day possible. The collaborative effort that led to the passage of Sustainable Farms and Fields is a powerful example of the type of statewide engagement that is possible and needed to unite WA communities and move forward together toward net zero emissions.
Thank you to the 115 farms and organizations from across the state that signed onto the letter of support for the program. Click on the following links to find out more about a few of these farms: Spoon Full Farm, Living Heritage Farms, and Klickitat Canyon Winery. (more…)
The new grant program will fund carbon sequestration practices in the agricultural community aimed at combating climate change.
Seattle, Washington, March 19, 2020 – With broad, bipartisan support, last week, the Washington State legislature passed Sustainable Farms & Fields (SB 5947). This bill creates a voluntary grant program to support farmers in the implementation of practices that increase the quantity of carbon stored in the land through efficient carbon-reduction and sequestration practices. The bill’s passage marks a significant victory during a short session wherein legislators struggled to find consensus on other much-needed climate legislation.
Initially introduced to the legislature in 2019, Sustainable Farms & Fields is the product of more than twelve months of stakeholder engagement and policy revisions. It is a testament to the legislative process and the potential for greater bipartisan collaboration in ensuring Washington remains a leader in both climate action and agricultural production and innovation. The program has been seeded with $225,000 to create an organizational structure and develop metrics for project evaluation and the grant selection process.
“We are so grateful for all the hard work and collaboration that went into shaping this bill,” said Jessie Martin, the newly appointed executive director of Carbon Washington. “Passing the bill is a great first step, but there is much more work to do to make sure the program is a success and to support Washington farmers at the scale that is needed to see real climate impacts as well as benefits to their bottom lines.”
The bill was supported at its final public hearing by leading agricultural commodity groups, including theWashington branches of the Farm Bureau, Dairy Federation, Wheat Growers Association, Cattleman’s Association, and Potato Commission. The bill was also backed by a coalition of more than 100 farms, food system stakeholders, and environmental/conservation organizations from across the state. Carbon Washington is already working with these partners, as well as others, to expand the program and increase funding in the 2021 legislative budget.
On Feb. 7, an exciting coalition of climate organizations, small farmers, and large farm organizations came together to testify in support of a revised version of the Sustainable Farms and Fields bill (SB 5947) in front of the House Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources committee. (Photo: A diverse panel advocating for SB 5947: the Farm Bureau, the Dairy Commission, CarbonWA, and the Nature Conservancy)
A partial list of the SB 5947 supporters:
|The Nature Conservancy||Tilth Alliance||Washington State Dairy Federation|
|Carbon Washington||Washington Young Farmer Coalition||Washington State Farm Bureau|
|Washington Farmer Veterans Coalition||Washington Association of Wheat Growers||Washington Cattleman’s Association|
|Taylor Shellfish||Wilcox Farms||And 115 farms and organizations who joined the letter of support|
In 2019, SB 5947 did not advance out of the House Rural Development, Agriculture, and Natural Resources committee in part due to concerns from several agricultural stakeholders. Throughout the summer and fall of 2019 Carbon Washington worked with partners to reach out to the farming community to improve the bill and build support for its passage in 2020.
Today, those outreach efforts paid off. At the Feb. 7 public hearing, 81 stakeholders supported the bill, while 0 opposed the bill.
by Adam Maxwell and Douglas Ray, PhD
This article appeared in the Seattle Times on Jan. 13, 2020
During a short legislative session, conventional wisdom dictates that only a few small bills will pass into law, most likely on a partisan basis. Our organizations, however, choose not to accept conventional wisdom. As we have in previous legislative sessions, we will continue to work to pass several important climate bills this session while encouraging legislators — both Democrat and Republican — to support policies that protect people and birds from the worst effects of climate change.
Significant progress is possible. We know this because of our state’s tradition of transcending partisanship in the name of conservation. In 2020, elected officials can pass smart policies that reduce emissions in our state, while supporting rural economies.
So, back to that “conventional wisdom.”
Conventional wisdom No. 1: Don’t expect too much in a short legislative session.
While this might make sense in the normal course of things, we aren’t living in “normal times.” The impacts of the climate crisis are clear, here in our backyard and around the world. Audubon’s research shows that if we don’t cut emissions 45% by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions by midcentury, two-thirds of North American birds will be vulnerable to extinction. It’s not just the birds that are impacted. Drought, sea-level rise and climatic shifts threaten our whole economy and way of life.
Against this backdrop, we expect legislators to advance effective climate policy, every single year. (more…)
Noa Kay is joining CarbonWA as sustainable farms campaign manager.
Noa earned masters degrees in Education and Public Health and has over 16 years of experience working as an educator and public policy researcher. Throughout her career, Noa has worked collaboratively with families, stakeholders, partner organizations, and elected officials. Recently, Noa’s commitment to improving both human and environmental health led her to launch a small no-till vegetable farm. She spends her time outside of work hiking, trail running, and cooking.
“We’re thrilled that Noa is part of our team,” says Kyle Murphy, CarbonWA executive director. “She brings the right mix of background experience in public policy, hands-on farming experience, and strong communication skills to the position.
“Noa will lead our coalition in a broad outreach and education effort to showcase the potential of climate-friendly farming practices. She will also work with our lobbying team to steward SB 5947 to success in 2020.” SB 5947 establishes a sustainable farms and fields grant program.
Other CarbonWA members, including Policy Chair Greg Rock, CarbonWA Vice Chair Peter Kelly, Melinda McBride and the broader advocacy and communication teams will continue to provide support on the sustainable farming campaign.
Adds Murphy: “We are especially grateful to the donors, large and small, who helped to make this hire happen!”