Thursday, August 14, 2008

Drop the Appeal - by Jim & Diane Hunter

Drop the Appeal
Written by Jim and Diane Hunter
Sunday, 06 July 2008

Do Commissioners Steve Stewart and Mark Boldt care about farming in Clark County? Do they care about the community food security of our urban residents? Well maybe it's time to stop beating around the bush and ask them.

If Boldt and Stewart do care, they will join together, assert their independence and vote to halt the appeal of the Growth Management Board's ruling on farm land in Clark County. This action could save at least a thousand acres of prime farmland from being paved over.

Some may ask, "But what about the poor farmers who can't make a living on their land any more?" Well, we need to care about them too, but selling to developers isn't the only answer to their plight. The County could utilize designated funds, which can be matched with State and Federal dollars to offer these farmers a cash settlement to agree to keep their land in agriculture. Under this plan, called purchase of conservation easements. the farmers could withdraw at least a portion of the development value of their land now. When they decide to retire and sell the farm, they can capture the remainder of the value in sale to another farmer, at a price the farmer could afford.

Will it be as sweet as the deal the developers are promising in their other ear? Probably not, but given the state of housing economy, farmers need to ask whether that deal will come through in time to do them any good.

We need to save farm land in Clark County. Then we need to start building up our local farm and food economy.

The world and our economy are on a crash course for some serious hurt. When the hurt comes, do, we, the people of Clark County want to be able to feed ourselves? Or will we be content to spend more of our declining dollars lining the pockets of a few world traders, buying food of questionable safety, grown by poor people who don't have the right to protest the injustice of their working conditions?

Every crisis offers danger and opportunity. Write Commissioners Boldt and Stewart and tell them which future you would choose for Clark County's food system.

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