Every year, we ask Tilth Producers members to weigh in on the policy issues that matter most to them. We then use that information, combined with an analysis of which issues will move forward in the next year, to build an advocacy agenda to guide our policy advocacy work.
Policy Priority Survey Results
This year’s policy priority survey identified several new priorities to advocate for in 2016. “Farmland preservation” ranked as first priority for the first time this year, followed by a brand new priority, “water.” “Local food system development” ranked third, followed by the first priority of the last two years, “beginning farmers and ranchers.” New questions this year ask members which government programs they used the most. The most popular program overall was ATTRA, the sustainable agriculture information service. The most popular state-level program was organic certification. Approximately half of survey respondents identified as farmers.
See the full report on the policy priority survey here:
We will honor our members’ prioritization of “farmland preservation” as a top priority issue by supporting American Farmland Trust’s Pacific Northwest office in protecting farmland preservation funding in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, the only state program which preserves farmland. While water emerged as the second-highest priority on our survey (due at least in part, we suspect, from the 2015 drought), the issue is not part of our advocacy agenda for the year because little state or federal water policy is moving this year. However, we will prioritize learning more about the issue this year in order to support policy efforts to steward our water resources when they emerge in the future.
The other main action item on our advocacy agenda for 2016 is supporting a budget increase for the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Small Farm & Direct Marketing and Farm to School Programs. These programs have long been underfunded, subsisting off of a small, motivated staff and outside grant funding. We will work with the Good Food Coalition to ask for $250,000 in additional funding for the programs in the 2016 supplemental budget.
Read our full advocacy agenda here: