Protecting Washington Farmland

Futurewise works with local communities to fight sprawl and save family farms from conversion to parking lots or sub-developments.

For decades, Washington has been a bright spot for farmland preservation. Nationally, Washington is in the top two states for our policy respond to protect agriculture and our success in preventing farmland conversion. However, recent trends and court decisions threaten our family farms and local food systems.

Since 1990, Futurewise has worked with local communities to protect Washington farms from suburban sprawl. We’ve secured major victories in that time that protected more than 1.5 million acres of agricultural lands. Every year, we bring new legal appeals to the Growth Management Hearings Board in our efforts to protect our food system.

Here's just a few of our recent victories:

  • Conserving Orchard Land in Douglas County: Futurewise recently secured a victory in convincing the Board of County Commissioners of Douglas County to deny a comprehensive plan amendment and rezone to change approximately 115 acres from Rural Resource 5 (RR-5) to Rural Service Center (RSC). This would have allowed the commercial development on the 115 acres which is mostly orchard land. The rezone would have been an illegal urban development in the rural area. (Read our comment letter)
  • Protecting Farm and Ranch Land in Ferry County: In 2020, Futurewise won our appeal in Ferry County. We argued, along with our local partners Concerned Friends of Ferry County, that the county had not designated enough agricultural land to maintain the county’s agricultural industry. Ferry County had only designated 3,344 acres of private farmland out of the 788,660 acres of land in farms. Agriculture is one of Ferry County’s leading industries. Now we are working to make sure that the county follows through on passing a new ordinance to designate farmland. (Read our comment letter)
  • Helping Thurston County Update Agricultural Zoning: Futurewise is working proactively with Thurston County to increase the amount of farm and ranch land that is designated as Long-Term Agriculture. In 2020, Futurewise brought an appeal to the Growth Management Hearings Board to better protect agricultural lands in Thurston County. We’re pleased that the County is working with us to update their zoning to protect local farms. (Read our comment letter)
  • Increasing Acreage of Farmland Eligible for Protection: For several years, Futurewise has advocated for the Department of Commerce to update their rules that determine which lands can be considered agricultural lands of long-term commercial significance. This spring, thanks to our advocacy and support from partners like American Farmland Trust, Commerce updated the rules to increase eligible farmland by 9 million acres! (Read more about the rule change)