Seattle Times publishes Save Family Farming’s response to Western Environmental Law Center and Swinomish Chair’s guest editorial

6/29/2016The Seattle Times editorial staff recognizes the importance and high interest in the issues of farming and the environment. In the guest editorial published on June 29, we responded to the June 3 guest editorial of Andrea Rodgers and Brian Cladoosby. This was a response to the editorial by the Seattle Times calling the “What’s Upstream” campaign unhelpful in resolving issues of farming and water protection.

We found it quite remarkable that Rodgers and Cladoosby would call for “rational discussion.” Farmers are working constructively with tribal leaders, with local, state and federal officials, with environmental groups and many others to address questions and concerns about farming and farming practices. As we pointed out in the editorial, one of those rational discussions was the establishment of the Voluntary Stewardship Program involving multiple groups interested in protecting water and the environment. Cladoosby as Chairman of the Swinomish Tribe, pulled out of this discussion.

Rational conversation depends on at least a degree of mutual respect and a willingness to deal with facts. The fact is that farmers are heavily regulated. Those regulations, enforcement along with voluntary and proactive measures by many of our farmers has resulted in significant improvement in water quality. Another important fact is that essentially all users of land impact the environment and water quality. Environmentalists and government officials alike all recognize that there are many causes of water quality problems. In Whatcom County, for example, where Lummi shellfish beds are closed due to water quality problems, the numerous studies make it clear that it is inappropriate to lay the blame for this on the feet of farmers alone.

Farmers are working hard to care for the environment and making real progress. That progress is not helped by the false accusations of the What’s Upstream attack on farmers sponsored by Andrea Rodgers’ employer, the Western Environmental Law Center and managed by the Swinomish Tribe. And it certainly is not helped by the EPA funding and likely supporting it on a “intimate” level.