Dunn sponsors changes making program more practical for farmers and qualifying county for state and federal funds to preserve more county farmland
StoryThe King County Farmland Preservation Program, a voluntary program that permanently preserves agricultural land, was strengthened today by the Metropolitan King County Council with its unanimous adoption of legislation updating the covenants that support the program.
“The King County Farmland Preservation Program has allowed many farmers to continue to operate in King County amid significant pressure from development interests and property cost issues,” said Councilmember Reagan Dunn, prime sponsor of the ordinance. “The program has a successful history. It is a key to preserving the presence of local agriculture for generations to come.”
The adopted ordinance is the product of over two years of work by the King County Agriculture program staff and King County Agricultural Commission to make program covenants more responsive to the needs of current farm operations. The ordinance addresses some of the challenges and opportunities for King County farmers today that the original covenants do no cover and allows King County to take advantage of federal and state funding of over $700,000 to protect additional farmland.
Among the changes, the new covenants provide the opportunity for processing and marketing of crops and animal products produced off-site to enhance the economic viability of the property as well as allowing for on-site consumption of farm products. The change benefits small-scale, value-added processing and agro-tourism activities that the existing covenants prohibit. These changes are consistent with King County support of local agriculture through projects such as Puget Sound Fresh and the Puget Sound Meat Producer’s Cooperative Mobile Meat Processing Unit.
The FPP purchases, at market value, development rights from farmland property owners. In accepting payment for their development rights, the property owners agree to have deed restrictions in the form of the FPP covenants placed on their property. The deed restrictions limit the use of the property to agriculture or open space uses.
Over 13,000 acres of farmland have been preserved under the program, which will recognize its 30th anniversary in November.
“The updates will provide more economic opportunities for farmers and strengthen the program overall,” said Dunn. “The changes were crafted in collaboration with King County farmers, ensuring the program is practical and beneficial to the economic viability of preserved farmland, which is essential for there to be a future for local agriculture.”