WPC: Proposed Legislation Punishes Rural Washington, Farmers

The Washington farming community is buzzing about legislation that many fear will kill the Ag economy across the state. House Bill 1838, looks to mandate riparian buffers around all waters statewide in an effort to help fish restoration and address climate change. Under the proposed legislation the state would have the power to require forested buffer areas, between 100’-249’, taking thousands of acres of farmland out of production.

And, according to Pam Lewison with the Washington Policy Center, farmers would only be compensated $100 an acre for the next decade, 1/10 the current price for farmland statewide. Lewison added this bill overtly targets rural communities.

“In fact, anywhere that is covered by a road, trail, building or other structure that is currently existing when the bill goes into effect, is exempt.  So, if you live in a rural community, where we have lot more sort of green space and we have lot more room to breathe, you get folded in [to this legislation], oppose to someone who lives in downtown Seattle.”

She added this riparian management program would be required by the state, and landowners that fail to comply within 30 days could face fines. Lewison, and many others are asking the farming community to share their thoughts on HB 1838 at a virtual hearing Wednesday at 10 a.m. She added it is crucial that farmers provide testimony that succinct, and personal.

“How is this going to impact your ability to buy Christmas gifts for your children?  How is this going to be personal when sending your kids to college.  Those things are personal.  Telling a legislator that you’re going to have to rip out all of the infrastructure that puts water on your circle is not personal to them.  Because it isn’t something real, or a lived experience for the vast majority of legislators in Olympia.”

Lewison noted that many people in the forestry and fishery industries with whom she’s spoken feel this is bad legislation as well.

Click Here to learn more about HB 1838.

Click Here to testify in Wednesday’s hearing.

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