About this indicator: Agriculture is an important land use in the county, as production of food is a critical contribution to the local economy and healthy diets of King County residents. Farms provide important benefits such as providing habitat for wildlife and fish, improving water quality, and offering opportunities to learn about and connect with the land.
One major challenge to maintaining agriculture in the county is the ability of farmers to find affordable land. The Farmland Preservation Program helps preserve agriculture by purchasing the development rights from farmland. This helps reduce the cost of farmland by discouraging other non-farm uses.
Existing DNRP response: In cooperation with the King County Agriculture Commission, DNRP continues to identify and prioritize farms that could be enrolled in the Farmland Preservation Program. As funding becomes available, we work with the landowner to purchase their development rights.
We monitor and suggest updates to the County's Comprehensive Plan and Code for policies and regulations that adversely affect (or don't reflect the changing nature of) agriculture. We work to develop incentives that encourage farming in the county. One result of this work was the 2014 launch of the Local Food Initiative, which is designed to expand the local food economy as well as improve healthy food access in low-income communities.
What you can do:
- Purchase local farm products. See a list of local farms
- Support local farm preservation efforts
- If you own land that is not being farmed, consider enrolling it in the FarmLink Program.
More information about King County's Agricultural Production & Protection Indicator is available by continuing below for these measures:
Acres in Farmland Preservation Program
About this indicator: The Farmland Preservation Program helps preserve agriculture opportunities by purchasing the development rights from farmland and recording a Deed and Agreement intended to preserve land for farming or open space. This purchase encourages a more reasonable agricultural cost of farmland by discouraging other non-farm uses.
Status: The development rights on about 14,700 acres have been purchased through the Farmland Preservation Program and the Transfer of Development Rights Program through 2015.
Influencing factors: The ability to purchase development rights and preserve land for farming depends on available funding and landowner willingness. Farmland values vary widely depending on the location of the farm in the county and its market value.
Priority new actions: Continue to explore new and enhanced funding options for the Farmland Preservation Program.
King County's Local Food Initiative recommends actions to increase farmer access to land, such as acquiring easements that keep land in agricultural use and purchasing farmland for lease to farmers.
Acres in Production in Agricultural Production District (APD)
About this indicator: The number of acres in agricultural production is an important indicator of the health of agriculture in the county. Local food production is critical to the food security and the economy of the county.
Status: King County has designated about 41,000 acres as Agricultural Production Districts (APD). About 27,000 acres of the APDs are farmable, the rest being forested, farm buildings or pavement, water bodies or other non-farmable areas. About 25,000 acres of the APDs are in production. In addition there are approximately 14,000 acres of land farmed in other areas of the county, including rural- and urban-zoned land. When taking into account the variable methods in measuring farmed properties from one reporting period to another, the amount of farmed acres has remained relatively stable.
Influencing factors: Whether Agricultural Production District (APD) lands are farmed or not depends largely on the interests, objectives and capabilities of the landowners. Some non-farming landowners just want a large residential property; some have stopped farming because they have reached retirement age. The county does not require APD land to be farmed, but works to ensure that farming is possible and profitable.
Priority new actions: Beginning in 2016, implement the strategies identified in King County’s Local Food Initiative report, with particular emphasis on Target 1A which directs the county to add 400 net new acres in food production per year in King County for the next 10 years. Continue to provide technical and marketing assistance to farmers and ensure King County regulations do not discourage farming.
Download PDF versions: Lower Green River APD, Upper Green River APD Enumclaw Plateau APD, Snoqualmie River APD and Sammamish River APD.
Data source: The data source for this indicator comes from the King County DNRP/WLRD. The reported number of acres of land in production in 2014 varies from previous years due to a change in methodology and improved GIS technology; the actual extent of land in production has not changed.