Farmers frustrated after Governor suggests farmers don’t care about salmon recovery, pushes farm-killing legislation

EVERSON, Wash. – In a letter to Washington Governor Jay Inslee Wednesday, farmers criticized Inslee’s recent efforts to force legislation that would deeply harm the state’s family farms. They complained the Governor was excluding the farming community from involvement in crafting the new rules.

The letter strongly rejected Inslee’s public suggestion that farmers opposed the plans, ostensibly intended to aid salmon, because they don’t care if the endangered fish go extinct. Responding to farming community criticism of his proposal to take away thousands of acres of farmland by forcing massive forest buffers along streams, Inslee told the Capital Press Jan. 14, “If you don’t care, then yeah, I can understand why you wouldn’t like it.”

Calling Inslee’s comments offensive, the farmers pointed to numerous examples of the farming community’s leadership in restoring fish habitat and other stewardship work, despite the state’s failure to fully fund its Voluntary Stewardship Program. The refusal by the state to support voluntary efforts resulted in a loss of $90 million in federal support for these efforts.

Signing the letter were leaders of Save Family Farming and its affiliates Whatcom Family Farmers, Skagit Family Farmers and Eastern Washington Family Farmers, who called Inslee’s comments offensive, and took exception with his claims of good relations with farmers in the state.

“For Governor Inslee to suggest he has the trust and goodwill of our state’s farming community is beyond the pale,” said Larry Stap, Save Family Farming President and one of the farmers signing the letter. “It couldn’t be further from the truth. His words and actions have created a deep distrust among farmers, and the only way he can change that is to actually sit down with the people growing food here in Washington and truly listen to them.”

The letter said “lack of consultation and engagement” with farmers has characterized the Inslee administration’s approach to agricultural issues and has caused “a loss of trust” among many of those growing food in Washington state.

Read the letter in its entirety below:

WA Farmers’ Message to Gov. Inslee 030122