David Madore may be new friend to farmers

Clark County farmers may have made a new friend: Councilor David Madore.

Warren Neth, executive director at Slow Food Southwest Washington, organized a farm tour for the councilor on May 22. Neth and nine “local food leaders” took a five-hour tour of mid-sized farms—between 25 and 500 acres—in Clark County.

The crux for this? Alternative 4, Madore’s own alternative to the county’s Comprehensive Growth Management Plan update.

For a quick refresher, the zoning plan will drop minimum parcel size for agriculture parcels from 20 acres down to 5 acres in some locations. It will also drop the minimum parcel size for rural lots down to 1 and 2.5 acre lots on some places.

Local food advocates fear the small lots will use up too much of Clark County’s viable agriculture land and force farmers to seek greener pastures elsewhere, as well as surround farms by large rural homes that may choke the potential for future growth.

Advocates like Neth have been fighting for the county to create Agriculture Production Districts, areas designated for agriculture, and Transfer of Development Rights programs, a way for farms to sell their development rights to high-density developers while preserving their own land, as alternatives to Madore’s.

Both Neth and Madore posted interesting write-ups of the tour on their respective Facebook pages, but I think the biggest takeaway was this from Neth:

“After taking the tour, I think Clark County’s local farm economy may have a new ally,” he wrote. “I asked him ‘Are you ready to scrap ALT4?’, he laughed and said he isn’t ready to scrap ALT 4, but he is willing to consider ways to amend it to support farming in Clark County.”

I followed up with Neth to see how he feels a week later.

“David did listen and did gather some key insights on what needs to happen to enable a future for economically viable farms,” Neth said Friday. “I have to admit, I am kind of sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see what he does with those insights.”

The county council will likely take another look at the Comprehensive Growth Management Plan in August when the draft supplemental environmental impact statement comes back.

Kaitlin Gillespie

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at kaitlin.gillespie@columbian.com or 360-735-4517.

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