Citizen's view: Allow farmers to hold events on their farm land
August 2, 2023
I attended the meeting of the Skagit County Planning Commission Tuesday, July 25, along with scores of others to express concern regarding proposed increased regulations for local farm families, many whom are already struggling to keep their family farm businesses viable. It is being reported that many limits and restrictions could be put in place to prevent celebration events and would even block new farm stands from opening. Many of the good people in the room have been the backbone of preserving Skagit farmland over the years, leading the charge to keep this county rural and agricultural. Due to ever increasing changes in markets, many have found creative ways to enhance their sales of crops with family friendly events that are wholesome, fun and educational. In the divisive climate of this culture, we need these celebrations of people coming together more than ever.
Many barns of yesterday were filled with livestock who pulled the plows and were replaced by tractors. Farmers adjusted to the changes. During many years of government regulations and restrictions, many small farms and ranches could no longer remain in business. Some of the good people in that room on Tuesday reclaimed those lands and barns and restored them to earlier beauty and functionality with hard work and personal investment to fight for Skagit County to always be a hub for family farms and people who love them. No one has fought harder to preserve farmland than the faces I saw in that room whose ability to make an honest living are under attack.
From a fiscal standpoint alone, the revenues brought into the county by these events are huge, employing scores of local businesses. These are the dollars that protect local infrastructure that benefits all of us.
Some of the people at the meeting spoke of food insecurity. This is a difficult fact for many, so what is better than locally raised fruits and vegetables made available at farm stands? It was made very clear at the meeting that every person who spoke values agricultural land highly and wants to preserve it.
Yet there are no farms without farm families. At the risk of sounding like a radical extremist, there is a movement worldwide toward government and corporate run farming and a top- down agenda to achieve it. I firmly believe we need a bottom up, soil-under-your-fingernails movement to not only preserve farmland, but the farm families who make it possible. They are our neighbors and friends who we all can support in this challenge. Every one of them deserves a seat at what should always be a farm-table discussion.
In the end, God owns it all, and we are called to be stewards. I want to support local farm families, rather than corporations and government regulations.
Connie Funk is a longtime resident of Skagit County who married into a pioneer family whose newest member is a sixth-generation son.