Agriculture is a $49 billion component of the economy of Washington state. In recent years, more and more environmental overstepping has inhibited the ability of agriculture to grow as an industry. There is now a concern that the state’s non-point water quality regulations can impair the agricultural sector’s economic viability by leading to the conversion of agricultural land to other uses.
That’s why I’ve proposed Senate Bill 6087, which was approved by the bipartisan Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water and Rural Economic Development. SB 6087 declares that the protection of normal and customary agricultural practices upon agricultural land is essential to maintain the public welfare, support farm and ranch capacity to produce and preserve open spaces. It also stipulates that state and federal agencies must also take precautions to protect the economic viability of agricultural operations and minimize the conversion of agricultural land to other uses.
It’s up to the Legislature to ensure normal and customary agricultural activities are protected from overregulation under federal or state law. That’s why my bill would require government agencies tasked with protecting water quality to work cooperatively with agricultural landowners and conservation districts in order to fully utilize new and existing voluntary incentives and promote water quality solutions to the maximum extent possible before taking any enforcement action. This bill is now awaiting debate by the full Senate and I’ll keep you apprised of its staus.