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How Important is Farmland Anyway?

farmHere is a great equation for national security: Let’s continue to convert over a million acres of farmland every year for habitat restoration or strip malls. 

The conversions are great for a few landowners and the developers who profit from them, but what is in it for the rest of the community? For starters, eventually food production can now join oil as an imported control piece, a piece that is controlling us. Sure we have lots of land in this country, but most of it is going to the highest bidder and if crops don’t pay as well as something else, most farmland goes on the block and out of production.

Recently, the City of Arlington received an application to develop a piece of farmland at Island Crossing. Dwayne Lane’s Chevrolet has been fighting to move to this location before Congressman Rick Larsen was a congressman. At that time, the Growth Management Act was able to hold the line on preserving this prime agricultural land from going into development. Eventually, the City of Arlington was able to annex this noncontiguous piece of land and all of Island Crossing, and in the process doom agriculture and the ability of that land to feed the Puget Sound region.

The most valuable land we have in this country is our resource lands: timber, mining and farmland. These types of land provide the bedrock for our economy and our national security. We should do everything possible to ensure that these lands are converted as a last resort. I would contend that land closest to the cities is the most vulnerable land and also the most valuable. 75% of our dairies, fruit and vegetable farms are located near urban populations.

If we need more of anything in this country, it is more fruits and vegetables, not less. We need to expand fresh fruits and vegetables reach to the inner cities, hospitals and schools. We need to expand the reach of organically grown foods and foods grown without synthetic chemical fertilizers, fungicides, pesticides and herbicides. We need to stop coddling mega food corporations, mega chemical corporations and mega farms, and change our national food policy to feed our people healthy nutrient-rich food. 

I got an idea: Let’s make the quality of food a priority, not the size of a campaign contribution or the shareholder’s profits.

The farmland at Island Crossing is all but lost. Unfortunately, the loss of this piece will inevitably doom the land next to it and the land next to that and so on, until Arlington reaches from I-5 to downtown. Then all that beautiful productive farmland will look like the Kent Valley; all because Chevrolets sell better on cheap farmland at Island Crossing then at the better situated, commercially zoned and serviced, non-floodplain Smokey Point exit.  Really?