News

It has been less than two weeks since the 2020 legislative session came to a close, and yet it suddenly seems like a distant past. In that short time, the rhythms and realities of daily life have been altered in ways most of us have never experienced, and we are all left wondering what tomorrow will bring and worrying about loved ones with whom we cannot be right now. In this time of unease and uncertainty, we hope that those of you who can are staying home and staying safe. To those of you on the front lines of this crisis, working hard to keep the rest of us safe, healthy, and fed, we extend our sincerest gratitude to you and best wishes for your health and safety.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has changed not only our present circumstances, but also the way we think about the future and our role in addressing the new challenges it presents. It is going to take bold, decisive action to ensure that all Washington communities recover from this crisis and emerge from it more resilient to future shocks and disruptions to our economy and way of life. Carbon WA is committed to being a part of that process, and as we prepare for that work, we are staying connected to our communities and partners and supporting their immediate needs.

As part of our Sustainable Farms & Fields campaign, we have spent the past year working with farmers from the peninsula to the palouse. Now, with restaurants and farmers markets closing across the state, Washington farmers need new ways to reach customers and generate revenue as the growing season approaches. You can support them by signing up for a CSA, to get healthy, farm-fresh products delivered to your door all season long. By investing in this service now, you can provide farmers with immediate economic relief while minimizing your own trips to the grocery store. And, if you’re able, you can support those who are hardest hit by this crisis by donating to the Good Farmer Fund.

We are so grateful for the support of WA farmers in our work, and for the work they do every day to keep our communities and our land healthy. If you can, please join us now in supporting them.

While we are still unsure of what the future holds, we can acknowledge that this is going to be difficult and commit to working together to face it. You have our commitment that Carbon WA will be here to do just that. Thank you for all you do and for your continued support of our work.

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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.

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On Tuesday, March 10, the Sustainable Farms and Fields bill (SB 5947) passed the Washington State legislature! The Senate accepted the amendments that were made in the House with an overwhelming bipartisan majority (63-6).

We are thrilled that many stakeholders in the agriculture sector came to the table to improve the bill and provide resources that farmers need to lead on climate. The collaborative efforts that led to the passage of Sustainable Farms and Fields is a powerful example of the type of state-wide engagement that is possible and needed to move Washington State to net zero emissions.

We are grateful for the partnership of the 115 farms and organizations that signed onto the letter of support for the Sustainable Farms & Fields grant 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. Thank you to all of you for connecting us to farmers in your network and amplifying farmers’ voices by continuing to contact your legislators. Your calls and emails make a difference!

We want to specifically recognize the incredible efforts of volunteers like Melinda McBride, Pauline Druffel, Pat Rasmussen, Warren Neth, and the Carbon Washington advocacy team. Megan Conaway, Cecilia Mirabile, and Matt Stidham promoted grassroots action. Jim Baird, Penny Dex, Jake Stewart, Warren Shoemaker, Lisa Hasselman, Joel Hansen, Steve Ghan, Margaret Homerding, Melissa Spear, and Phyllis Farrell made the trip to Olympia to give powerful testimony at the public hearing. Organizational partners worked to improve the bill and advocate for its passage, including Audubon Washington, The Nature Conservancy, Washington State Farm Bureau, Washington State Dairy Federation, Washington Young Farmers Coalition, Tilth Alliance, Northwest Farmers Union, Faith Action Network, and many others. Thank you! (more…)

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.

CarbonWA board policy chair Greg Rock talks about prospects for the bill in the latest edition of CarbonCast(more…)

Klickitat Canyon Winery in Lyle, Wash., is proving that respect for nature is good business — and that vintners can care about both grapes and meadowlarks.

The winery was founded 30 years ago by Dr. Robin Dobson, whose main job is working as an ecologist for the U.S. Forest Service. When Dobson decided to retire from winemaking, his son Kiva took over the business.

“I grew up doing this,” Kiva says. “I also studied natural resources and biology. When Dad said he was done with the winery, I said I’ll give it a shot.”

Klickitat Canyon Winery is almost directly across the Columbia from Hood River, Ore. It includes 7 acres of grapes, 7 acres used for other crops, and 20 acres of oak woodland, which they leave as natural habitat.

The winery produces about 500 cases of wine per year. Those include Organic Estate Syrah and Organic Meadowlark Gold, which the winery’s website describes as “a lively wine sourced from our Meadowlark Vineyard. A blend of Grenache Blanc, Marsanne, and Viognier that creates grapefruit flavors with hints of wildflowers and earthiness on the nose.” Other varieties are made with grapes from nearby vineyards.

One reason Kiva took over the winery was his desire to continue Robin’s approach to farming — which the pair calls eco-dynamic agriculture. “By reintroducing the native wildflowers and bunch grasses between the rows and around the periphery,” he says, “we strive to increase biodiversity as much as possible. As a result, our vineyard has become a continuation of the surrounding environment, as opposed to an oasis for non-native and sometimes harmful pests. We think of it as a form of agricultural habitat restoration.” (more…)

Jessie Martin

Since 2015, when Carbon Washington became the first organization in the U.S. to put a carbon tax on a statewide ballot (I-732), it has been an active participant in state government, working closely with concerned citizens and elected officials to pass meaningful and pragmatic climate policies that work for as many people as possible.

Under the leadership of Kyle Murphy, Carbon Washington has been at the forefront of climate action in the state. With a dedicated team of volunteers and a highly engaged base across the state, Carbon Washington has organized legislative action and ballot measures that led the nation, developed insightful policy analysis, and supported climate candidates who won close races. All of this has been done with a commitment to making a meaningful difference while generating broad support across Washington.

After nearly five years of leadership with Carbon Washington, Kyle is stepping back to focus on his studies as a second-year student at the University of Washington School of Law. Continuing the organization’s mission of increasing demand for climate action and fighting for smart carbon policies, Carbon Washington is pleased to announce the appointment of Jessie Martin as the new executive director.

Jessie brings more than a decade of diverse, cross-functional, leadership experience in the corporate, public, and non-profit sectors. Most recently, she served as executive director of Earth Economics, where she developed strategies to harness the power of markets to redirect capital toward nature-based solutions to urban and rural challenges. (more…)

 

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…)

The 2020 legislative session began on January 13th. It is a short 60-day session so Carbon Washington staff, board members, volunteers, and supporters have been working hard to lay the groundwork to advance important climate legislation.

Sustainable Farms and Fields Progress

Over 75 farms, food systems stakeholders, and environmental organizations from across the state have endorsed the Sustainable Farms and Fields campaign. This strong support underscores that effective climate policy can also benefit farm businesses and rural communities. Read this article to find out why Spoon Full Farm, a farm in Thorp, Washington, has endorsed Sustainable Farms and Fields and how they sequester carbon, improve fertility, and build healthy soil.

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Spoon Full Farm has endorsed Sustainable Farms and Fields

We expect that the Sustainable Farms and Fields bill (SB 5947) will be reintroduced in the Senate early in the legislative session. Now is a great time to call your state Senator to express your support for the bill and ask them to pass effective climate solutions, including SB 5947, that benefit communities across Washington State. (more…)

Agriculture produces about 9 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. But 80 miles east of Seattle, a small farm along the Yakima River is proving that agriculture can store carbon in the soil, instead — in a big way.

Spoon Full Farm is jointly run by four determined young farmers who are out to grow produce and meat in ways that maximize their taste and nutrition — while strengthening and enriching the soil with large quantities of carbon.

One of those farmers is Mericos Rhodes. He was studying philosophy at Williams College in Massachusetts when he attended a lecture by an innovative cattle rancher. “He was running around on stage yelling about soil microbes,” says Rhodes, “and describing how rotational grazing of bison built soil fertility and massive stores of carbon in the Midwest. This guy really loved his life. I wanted what he was having.”

A few years later, Rhodes’ mom and stepdad bought what is now Spoon Full Farm. “I’d been serving the Kool-Aid of carbon farming to them,” he says. “After they’d owned the land for about a year, a few friends of mine and I moved out there and started farming.” (more…)

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We are thankful for all you gave this Giving Tuesday,

Thanks to the roughly 45 donors who have helped us raise over $18,000 in our matching drive! We exceeded our original $10,000 target almost two-fold! Your financial contributions enable us to keep our Sustainable Farms work going through the legislative session while also giving us bandwidth to work on carbon pricing and other climate action policies. If you missed out on the match please still consider donating to CarbonWA — you can give online or mail a check to PO Box 85565, Seattle, WA 98145.

CarbonWA featured at next Climate Science on Tap 12/16

Please join CarbonWA at the next Climate Science on Tap Happy Hour Monday 12/16 at Optimism Brewing. Cascadia Climate Action will be hosting an informative discussion featuring CarbonWA’s Greg Rock and other experts on the role of farms in solving the climate crisis. Family and dog-friendly!

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