The Farmer-Tribal Partnership–a Better Way to Go
A new model is appearing. Today’s farmers and tribal leaders are realizing that their mutual goals are best pursued by working together rather than through animosity, litigation and false accusations. It’s happening in our state with increasing frequency. A dairy farm in Monroe has been working with the Tulalip Tribe for many years on a bio-gas digester that converts manure to electricity and bacteria-free nutrients. Now, in what may serve as a model across the state and beyond, Whatcom dairy farmers and Lummi Nation leaders have established an innovative partnership to reopen shellfish beds and clean the water in the Nooksack River basin.
There are Tribes, one in particular, that have set a course of win-lose. For them to win, they believe farmers must lose. Records show that even the EPA, even EPA Administrator McLerran begged them to take a collaborative approach. But no, that was rejected. Sadly for all of us, the Administrator folded before their antagonism. The result of that very poor decision was What’s Upstream.
The Portage Bay Partnership in Whatcom County will be watched closely by many. We hope that all Tribes of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission are watching as closely as the farming community will. We encourage all who care about the future of farming and securing the treaty rights of our friends and neighbors in the Tribal communities to reach out to these innovative farmers and Tribal leaders to encourage them in making this Partnership the model for the future.