2018 Scholarship Winners

Whatcom County Farm Bureau is pleased to announce its 2018 Scholarship Winners.

Luke Wolfisberg

Travis Lenssen

Whatcom County Farm Bureau is a voluntary, grassroots advocacy organization representing the social and economic interests of farm and ranch families at the county level. As apart of this mission, they annually award $2000 of college scholarships to students in Whatcom County.

Whatcom County Farm Bureau awarded a $1000 scholarship to Luke Wolfisberg, the son of Hans Wolfisberg and Colleen Wolfisberg. Wolfisberg is graduating from Lynden High School and will be studying Agriculture and Food Business Economics at Washington State University.

Travis Lenssen, the son of David & Heather Lenssen, was also awarded a $1000 scholarship by Whatcom County Farm Bureau. Lenssen graduated from Lynden High school in 2017 and is finishing up his first year of studies at Washington State University where he is working towards becoming a Veterinarian.

Whatcom Farm Bureau 2018 Scholarship Program

The Whatcom County Farm Bureau is offering $2000 in scholarships to qualified Whatcom County students. A minimum of $750 will be awarded to each winner.

Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for a scholarship.

  • Applicant must be a high school senior or currently be a full time college or university undergraduate student entering college, technical school or university as a full time student in the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Applicant must be a Whatcom County Farm Bureau member or the son, daughter, legal dependent or spouse of a Whatcom County Farm Bureau member, with membership dues paid prior to October 1, 2017, and kept current through May 14, 2018.
  • Applicant must not have been awarded the scholarship in previous years.
  • Application must be completed and postmarked or emailed by Monday, April 30, 2018 to: Whatcom Farm Bureau Scholarship Committee, PO Box 703, Lynden, WA 98264 Or whatcomfarmbureau@gmail.com

Judging is scored as follows:

  • Academics/Transcript 20
  • The Importance of Farm Bureau – Essay 40
  • Career Ambition – Essay 20
  • Leadership & Community Service – Essay 20

The Whatcom County Farm Bureau Scholarship Committee will review the applications and make the final decision no later than May 14, 2018.

Scholarship payment will be made after one full term has been successfully completed with a GPA of 2.75 or better, and the recipient is enrolled full time for the next term. Prior to scholarship payment, recipient is responsible for having a copy of grades and a letter of re-enrollment sent from the college registrar to:

Whatcom County Farm Bureau Scholarship Committee PO Box 703, Lynden, WA 98264 Or whatcomfarmbureau@gmail.com

For questions or further information, please contact:

Troy Lenssen, Whatcom County Farm Bureau Scholarship Chairperson
360-815-2577 troylenssen@hotmail.com

Melodie Kirk, Whatcom County Farm Bureau Administrative Staff
360-739-7764 whatcomfarmbureau@gmail.com

Click here for the application!

Statement on Growth Management Act Appeal

LYNDEN, Wash.–Whatcom County farming groups are pushing back after the Whatcom County Council ignored state law and the County Comprehensive Plan’s goals and policies that require local family farms, food, and resource lands to be protected on the same level as the environment.

The Whatcom County Farm Bureau, Washington Farm Bureau, Whatcom County Cattlemen’s Association and Whatcom Family Farmers are appealing an updated set of farm regulations to the Washington State Growth Management Hearings Board (GMHB), after the council approved a Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) that violates the Washington Growth Management Act (GMA) by failing to protect local food and farms.

“This ill-conceived update to important Whatcom County environmental protections must be corrected to comply with the GMA and protect the interests of local food and farming and provide environmental safeguards before being placed into effect,” said Leslie Honcoop, local farmer and president of the Whatcom County Farm Bureau.

The GMA requires counties to encourage the protection and enhancement of agricultural resource lands, the economic development of farmland, the protection of farmland owners’ property rights, and the protection of those owners from illegal public disclosure requirements.

Whatcom County’s updated CAO fails all of these tests, as well as others outlined in the GMA and Comprehensive Plan.

“By neglecting to take these important considerations into account, the Whatcom County Council has enacted rules that place our local agricultural community at risk of further negative economic pressures and costs of complying with unnecessary mandates that do little to protect the environment on and around farmland that local farmers work so hard to steward,” Honcoop said.

Those who crafted the GMA knew that taking away farms’ ability to be economically viable would only serve to encourage the conversion of agricultural resource lands (sprawl) and ultimately speed the urbanization of our already dwindling farmlands and rural areas.

The farming and ranching groups involved in the appeal are calling for the updated Whatcom County CAO to be brought back to the drawing board to address these major problems.

It is imperative that the GMHB invalidate the updated CAO, so that Whatcom County environmental regulations can be corrected to comply with the GMA and the Comprehensive Plan and protect the interests of local food and farming on par with the environment.

Don’t Miss Requesting A Ballot To Vote Larry Helm

The Whatcom Conservation District Board of Supervisors is having an election where all Whatcom County voters are eligible to vote. The catch is that unlike our normal elections which are run out the Whatcom County Auditor’s office, this election is run out of the Whatcom Conservation District office and you must request an absentee ballot or vote in person on election day, March 13, 2018, at the Conservation District office.

Because this elected position impacts agriculture in Whatcom County, we strongly encourage you to request a ballot to vote. You may do this by calling 360-526- 2381 ext 101 or visiting whatcomcd.org/board-elections. The deadline for requesting a ballot is 4:00 pm tomorrow, the 7th of February.

The Washington State Farm Bureau PAC has endorsed Larry Helm for this position. Larry is a farmer here in Whatcom County and has served on this board previously. He is an excellent fit for this position. To learn more about Larry Helm visit his campaign page at facebook.com/LarryHelm4ConservationDistrict/

If you have not already done so, please request a ballot by tomorrow afternoon. It is crucial for Agriculture to continue to have Larry Helm on this board.

Attend WA Farm Bureau Legislative Day

If you are a Whatcom Farm Bureau member, you are invited to join us at the Washington State Farm Bureau Legislative Day on January 30 in Olympia. For more details and to sign up follow this link.  It is a great way to find out what is going on at the WA State Legislature and visit with your elected officials.

Whatcom Agriculture’s Efforts to Give Input on Key Regulatory Documents

Whatcom County Farm Bureau has been monitoring the Comprehensive Plan & Critical Areas Ordinance (CAO) review process for nearly two years. During that time, we have made many comments on the consequences of proposed language regarding agriculture. Most significantly:

We opposed public disclosure of which farms have farm plans and their locations.

We expressed our concern about the consequences of mandated farm plans for 4H, FFA and other youth club participants, and tried to get a simple exemption for these groups. But because the Council wanted to require an educational piece to receive an exemption, the process became too complex to be workable.

We opposed the farm plan exemption of 1 animal unit per 3 acres as too restrictive to be a viable exemption as so few would qualify. Planning would not entertain an adjustment, though we offered proposals and valid arguments for multiple options. As it ended up, no exemptions for farm plans were written into the CAO.

We brought forward a definition of ongoing agriculture that more accurately described agricultural activities, and eliminated the restriction of land lying fallow for only 5 years before it was not allowed to return to its previous ag classification. This definition was accepted by the council and passed into the CAO update in July, only to be pulled in November as it seemed, to the Planning and the Council, too great a risk for engendering a challenge and a lawsuit.

What we have learned is that though the Growth Management Act mandates equal protection for the environment and resource lands, it does not happen in our county. Despite demonstrable evidence of improving water quality, (http://www.capitalpress.com/Washington/20171121/epa-cant-link-cows-to-fouled-shellfish) and increased use of best management practices, agricultural use is viewed as degradation of land.

We have also learned the power of the lawsuit is greater than the power of reason and good arguments. We did our research and formed cogent arguments for our positions, but fear of repercussions from making any changes to the CAO and thus triggering lawsuits and challenges from the environmental community carried far more weight with the Planning Dept and the Council. They knew who would sue, and they knew it wasn’t the farmers. Decisions were not made on principle as much as they were made to appease the environmental community. It is very sad that our society has come to this; that people who threaten to inflict the most pain are the ones that are accommodated. And the irony is that, often, these are the same people who say they will not tolerate bullies.

We need truth and people courageous enough to declare it despite the consequences. We are going to have to be those people, costly though it may be. Whatcom County Farm Bureau is committed to speaking the truth about agriculture as often as we have opportunity.

We are grateful to our attorney, Dannon Traxler of Langabeer Traxler, for her accurate advocacy of our issues, and her dedicated effort. It is a pleasure working with her. As well, we have been supported financially by Whatcom County Cattlemen, Whatcom Family Farmers, Ag Water Board, Dairy Federation and Washington State Farm Bureau. They have also been great resources for advice and strategy. We look forward to working with them again.

2017 WSFB Annual Meeting

Thank you to delegates  (L-R) Melodie Kirk, Larry & Sharon Helm, Bob & Pauline Van Weerdhuizen, Jason & Debbie VanderVeen, Leslie Honcoop, Troy Lenssen, Corie Kirk,  Percy & Lois Hoekema and Dan Noteboom (not pictured) for representing Whatcom County Farm Bureau at the 2017 Washington State Annual Meeting.

Annual Meeting – Whatcom County Farm Bureau

It is the time for our annual Whatcom County Farm Bureau meeting.

When: Thursday, October 26, 2017
6:30 PM – Business Meeting: Director Elections & Bylaw Changes
7:30 PM – Program & Dessert

Where: Mt. Baker Rotary Bldg. at Northwest Washington Fair – 1775 Front Street, Lynden, WA

Who’s Invited: We invite & encourage all Whatcom County Farm Bureau Members and supporters of agriculture to attend one or both of these meetings. No RSVP needed & no cost to attend.

The speaker this year is Kent Oostra, CEO of Exact Scientific Services Inc. He will speak on tracking pollution sources through DNA testing of water samples. Question & answer time will be included. We’ll also have updates on the past year’s activities of Whatcom Farm Bureau and some of the current issues we face. To read a bit about the DNA testing project here in Whatcom County go here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/…/loc…/article175563101.html

To review the proposed bylaw changes go here.

Questions – contact Leslie at 360-354-1155 or Melodie at whatcomfarmbureau@gmail.com

Proposed Changes to Bylaws

Article l – MEMBERS

Section 1. QUALIFICATIONS

Only persons, families and partnerships, unincorporated associations and corporations organized for agricultural purposes, actively engaged in the production of agricultural products, or in agribusiness, including lessees and tenants of land used for the production of such products: lessors and landlords who receive as rent, $2,500 either in kind or cash, all or part of the crop raised on the leased or rented premises are eligible for a voting membership in this organization.

(Agribusiness is defined as an entity engaged in the manufacture or distribution of farm equipment and supplies, the processing, storage, or distribution of farm commodities.)

Other persons, partnerships, unincorporated associations or corporations interested in agriculture may make application to become either a non-voting associate or business member in this organization. (Approved by Board on 9/19/17) 

Article II – BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Section 1. ELECTION OF BOARD OF DIRECTORS

All voting members are eligible to be nominated for the position of director at the annual meeting and then elected by the voting members present. Up to 2 director positions may be filled by agribusiness voting members. There shall be nine director positions. (Approved by Board on 9/19/17)

Section 2. TERMS

Length of terms shall be three years with three directors coming up for election every year. Term limits for directors are three terms of three years each with a year off before becoming eligible again. Terms begin and end on the date of the Whatcom County Annual Meeting. (Updated and approved 10/27/15)

Section 3. QUORUM

Five or more board members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business of the Farm Bureau. A majority of the Board members in attendance shall in the presence of a quorum, decide its action.

Section 4. VACANCY

In case of any vacancies in the Board of Directors or officers through death, resignation, disqualification, or otherwise, the remaining members of the Board of Directors may elect a successor, having the qualifications herein prescribed for directors, to hold office for the unexpired portion of the term of office of director or officer whose place shall be vacant.

Section 5. MEETINGS

The Board of Directors shall normally hold regular monthly meetings.  The president may call Special Meetings.  Special meetings may be held via email, conference call, or other forms of communication in order to address time sensitive decisions. (Updated and approved 10/27/15)

Section 6. DIRECTOR RESPONSIBILITIES

Each Director must keep their Farm Bureau membership current. (Approved by Board on 6/20/17)

Section 67. FALURE TO ATTEND MEETINGS

In the event of continued failure on the part of the member of the Board of Directors to attend regular or special meetings of the Board, the member shall be notified by the president of the automatic suspension from the Board after missing three consecutive meetings without just cause.

Section 8. REMOVAL OF DIRECTORS

Any Director can be removed from their position by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors. (Approved by Board on 6/20/17)

Article III – OFFICERS

Section 1. OFFICERS

The officers of this organization shall be President, First Vice-president, Second Vice-President, Secretary-Treasurer or Secretary and Treasurer and such other officers as may be deemed necessary, such other officers to be created by resolution of the Board of Directors. The President and First and Second Vice-President must be members of this organization in good standing whose principal occupation and interest is farming. (Approved by Board on 9/19/17)

Click here to view current our bylaws.

Requiring Farm Plans – Pending County Law – Information Meeting

Thursday, October 19 at 7 PM – 9 PM

Mt. Baker Rotary Bldg.  Northwest Washington Fair

1775 Front St. Lynden, WA 98264

We, along with 5 other agricultural organizations, have been working on giving County Council feedback on their changes to the Critical Areas ordinance since last fall.

A major issue has come up in the last couple of weeks in the County Council’s review of the Critical Areas Ordinance. Per Whatcom County Planning and Development staff’s suggestion, the County Council has adopted wording that would require anyone who has more than one animal unit (1000lb) per three acres of grazable land to obtain a farm plan.

We need you to speak up and tell County Council how this will effect you. This meeting is an opportunity to come and learn more about where things are at, what you can do now, and much more. We will have our lawyer who has been helping us in submitting the comments and keeping on top of what County Council has been doing there as well.

Come to learn and take action.