Stung by angry farmers

The upset farmers who showed up at Tuesday’s public hearing made an impression on Clark County commissioners, but not necessarily a favorable one.

Before a work session Wednesday, Commissioner Tom Mielke was talking to Andy Silver, executive director of the Council for the Homeless, and filling him in on Tuesday’s drama.

Commissioners ended up not voting on anything Tuesday except to set the touchy subjects over until June 12. Among other things, they had planned on, by clearly defining roadside stands, to make it so people can’t just park a truck on the side of the road in the public right-of-way and sell produce.

Under the requirement for an operator of a roadside stand, the proposed ordinance said “parcel must be owned/leased by producer of a majority of the agricultural product offered for sale.”

Farmers protested, and commissioners agreed that it would be OK to allow sales on property where farmers had the written permission of the owner to be there.

Joe Beaudoin, owner of Joe’s Place Farms, said he doesn’t like it when competitors park within sight of his fields and sell produce.

People are against government regulation, Mielke told Silver, until it comes to cracking down on the competition. That’s when they want the government to intervene.

On Thursday, Commissioner Steve Stuart posted on his Facebook page a link to The Columbian’s story with this message:

“To be 100% clear, on Tuesday, after many meetings with stakeholders including the Farm Bureau, the Board considered action to:
1) Readopt, clarify, broaden, the current exemption from building codes for ag structures like barns.
2) Allow more uses, in more places, and larger spaces for roadside stands.
3) Assure legality with simple standards for year-round ag markets where public goes inside (MUCH simpler standards than a New Seasons that also sells food).

Stuart went on to write: “Some inside County stretched those goals, which we took care of and are further refining, some farmers pushed for even more, and some from the farming community didn’t care what was said, instead taking the opportunity to rail against “government” and the changes that WOULD help them. Not my opinion. Fact. Sad that so many years of being regulated to death has made some of our farmers so cynical that they can’t see a positive change from people who care for what it is, but instead cut off their noses to spite their face.”

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