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Representative Steve Hailey joins Farmland Preservation Task Force

State Representative Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, has been named to the newly created Farmland Preservation Task Force. The appointment was announced July 11 by House Speaker Frank
Chopp. 

The task force advises the Office of Farmland Preservation, established
during the 2007 legislative session in Senate Bill 5108, and which
operates within the Washington State Conservation Commission.

“With a rapidly growing population in the state, there’s increasing
pressure from developers to convert farmland to non-agricultural uses,
particularly residential, commercial and industrial,” said Hailey. “Our
mission on the task force is to protect productive farmland areas from
development and help preserve the viability of Washington’s agricultural
economy.”

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Senator Haugen announces Farmland Preservation bill signed into law

As more and more housing developers set their sights on acquiring scenic and relatively inexpensive agricultural lands, farming communities across our state face the prospect of irreversible changes to their essential character.

Legislation signed today into law by Governor Chris Gregoire would set up a state Office of Farmland Preservation to help keep agriculture economically viable for rural farmers.

“Farmlands are disappearing all across Washington, and it’s a real shame,” said Senator Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, who prime sponsored the bill. “Even the most dedicated farmers are facing pressure to sell their land to developers. We need to figure out how to let farmers stay farmers, or we’re not even going to recognize our communities in as little as ten years’ time.”

In addition to establishing an Office of Farmland Preservation, Senate Bill 5108 creates a Farmland Preservation Task Force made up of farmers and representatives of the State Conservation Commission, the state Department of Agriculture, the Washington Associations of Counties, the state Legislature and the governor’s office.

The mission of both the office and the task force is to identify factors likely to affect the retention and viability of agricultural lands in the future, develop tools for retaining agricultural land for agricultural production, and develop a program to help the current generation of farmers transition to the next.

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Governor Gregoire Signs Legislation to Protect Farmland for Future Generations

Governor Chris Gregoire today signed into law a measure she requested as a part of her Working Lands Initiative that will create a statewide Office of Farmland Preservation as a resource to help protect, preserve and retain farmland for future generations.

Not all land is suitable for farming. In fact, we have a limited amount of agricultural land that we rely on to produce food and fuels and grow our economy,” said Governor Gregoire. “This office will serve as a strong voice on the importance of farmland preservation and provide farmers and growers more options to keep their farms profitable and productive.”

Governor Gregoire vetoed sections 6 and 7 of the bill.

Substitute Senate Bill 5108, sponsored by Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-Camano Island), passed the Senate with 46 votes and passed the House with 95 votes. The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the Legislative session.