Northwest NEWS

June 12, 2000

Local News

Joint farm support plans annouced

   King County Executive Ron Sims and Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel have announced a new joint program to preserve farming in King and Snohimish Counties called FarmLink. FarmLink will be critical to maintaining farmlands in the region by helping match existing farmers with new farmers interested in preserving and operating the farm.

   In addition, Sims and Drewel announced the third year of Puget Sound Fresh, a program to strengthen markets for locally grown products through a brand identity program at a variety of sales venues including retail grocery stores, farmers markets and farm stands. Metro and Community Transit buses will be traveling both counties this summer with this year's adversing campaign for Puget Sound Fresh.

   With the overall program announcements, the two counties also announced two new web addresses through which consumers, retailers, restaurants, and others can access information on local farms. The new websites will link to program information, as well as to King and Snohomish County sites. Both sites will be operational on July 1, 2000.

   The Puget Sound Fresh program is the first of its kind in the Northwest, offering farmers and consumers a way to identify locally grown products. Promoted through the website and transit, the program will also be publicized in local newspapers, with public service announcements and at the King and Snohomish County fairs. Consumers will be encouraged to seek out local products, offering increased markets and improved sales for our local farms.

   FarmLink is the only program in the state focused solely on connecting current farmers interested in retiring with future farmers interested in taking over agricultural-zoned lands to maintain or build economically viable farms. The FarmLink network may be accessed through a toll-free number. Farmers interested in the program are listed in a database and connected with others who want to explore the possibility of working to transition the farm successfully. Interested farmers will be able to download enrollment forms from the website.

   Sims and Dewel are Honorary Chairs of FarmLink, along with King County Vice Chair Louise Miller and State Senator Marilyn Ramussen. Miller took part in the announcement, as well as farmers participating in both programs.

   The two projects are jointly funded and staffed by both counties, with regional applications for the programs underway. They are an example of how two governmental organizations are working together to protect farmers, farmlands, the environment and food supply sources.

   For more information, please contact Steve Evans, King County, at (206) 296-7824; or Bob Higenberg in Snohomish County, at (425) 388-311, ext. 2368.