Thurston County Survey on Agriculture Indicates Community Concern Over Loss of Farmland
OLYMPIA – What will it take for agriculture to thrive in Thurston County? That's what the county sought to find out when they conducted a community-wide survey earlier this year. According to the US Department of Agriculture 2017 census, Thurston County generates $176 million in annual revenues from agriculture—a number that could decrease as the county experiences continued farmland loss.
The county asked about top issues facing current and prospective farmers and what they, along with other county residents, were concerned about regarding the future of agriculture in the county.
The survey results identified top priorities for county action that include:
- Conducting more outreach and education to farmers and prospective farmers about available incentive programs.
- Exploring land use policy and zoning changes to protect more farmland.
- Doing more to address development impacts to farmland.
- Investing in economic development for agriculture.
This survey is a step toward understanding and addressing these issues and concerns, and is part of a larger county project, "Community-Driven Review of Agriculture Policies and Programs". In April 2020, The Board of County Commissioners added this project to the 2020-2021 Comprehensive Plan Amendment Docket in response to public comments received during the county's 2020 Comprehensive Plan update, a document that guides the development of Thurston County.
These public comments from community members, non-profits, and advisory groups asked the county to take a fresh look at land use policy, regulations, and incentive programs supporting agriculture. The survey results provided vital information from the community that will guide future county actions.
More information on the project and the final survey results are available online at: https://www.thurstoncountywa.gov/planning/Pages/comp-plan-agriculture.aspx.