Welcome to Western Washington Agricultural Association’s webpage. We work on behalf of those that farm the fertile soils in north Puget Sound, as well as those that support the agricultural industry. Our contribution to agriculture evolves with need and demand for services, and with that change, so to does the area in which we work.
Our organization was created in 1944, when the need for farmer representation was needed to negotiate and execute vegetable contracts with processing companies. Although we no longer work on vegetable contract negotiations, our original role and mission remains in place. The difference between 1944 and today isn’t what we offer to agriculture, but rather the products we produce, and those we negotiate with on behalf of our members, and farming in general.
WWAA’s Current Primary Focus~
To best support our member base, Western Washington Agricultural Association serves as an agent for Special Purpose Districts within Skagit County. Special Purpose Districts provide dike, drainage, and irrigation functions for urban and rural landowners, most of which within about 60,000 acres of Skagit County’s sub-tidal farmlands. These districts are governed by (three) elected residents of the district in which they live or own land, and are authorized under Washington State laws, RCW’s 85 (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?Cite=85) and 87 (http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?Cite=87) to serve on behalf of that districts’ residents. Services provided by special purpose districts include maintenance of drainage infrastructure such as ditches, culverts, tidegates, and pumps, levee and dike maintenance and repair, and water transport and containment for agricultural crop irrigation.
Much of our organizations work is hidden in the background of all the ditch cleaning, tidegate repairs, and dike maintenance you all see throughout the valley. Unless you are a district commissioner, you are likely unaware of the daily communication, information exchange, and authorizing paperwork needed to ensure districts serving the agricultural landowners and businesses are legally covered at all levels by permits and authorizations issued by county, state, and federal governments and agencies. In many cases, on behalf of the districts, WWAA is the primary contact for these agencies, often attend meetings on behalf of the districts, provide written response and comment on legislative, environmental, and legal matters.
To learn more of our role assisting Skagit County Special Purpose Districts and those services we provide districts, and projects, initiatives, and collaboratives in which WWAA represents their interests and residents, view our progress on our website or contact our office.
Role and Significance of Agriculture in North Puget Sound~
North Puget Sound agriculture produces fresh market fruits and vegetables and vegetable seed stock shipped across the United States as well as oversees. New potatoes grown in Skagit County and north Snohomish County are world renowned and consumed because of their unique flavor and soft skins. Seed crops, including beet, cabbage, spinach and others are grown here and in many states for fresh market sales across the United States. Visitors from all over North America, and in some cases other continents, travel to Skagit Valley each spring to view hundreds of acres of tulips, daffodils, and iris. This region also supports small family dairy operations that ship milk up and down the west coast. Additional crops grown locally include fresh market and processed vegetables and berries, beef and chicken production, grains (including wheat, barley, oats) utilized for noodles, feed, and malting, and many others on smaller scales.
Our members and their neighbors that populate the rural landscape of north Puget Sound are the primary reason agriculture remains successful and maintains its place, even though not the most economically significant industry, as the defining feature in North Puget Sound. Land use policies that protect farmland and limit its conversion, are widely supported across the region and are continually re-affirmed through local initiatives and rule-making. Additionally, when opportunities exist to comment and participate in discussions on farmland conversion, residents from these communities continually voice their support for agricultural viability, and opposition to farmland loss. We continue to work on behalf of our members, to maintain and grow that support through outreach and education efforts including tours and conferences.
Not coincidentally, North Puget Sound also supports one of the most diverse concentrations of bird species found anywhere else in the United States. These include waterfowl, raptor, and shorebird species in such great abundance, this area is a destination for and home to world renowned professional photographers and artists. Additionally, five salmon species reside or migrate through this areas rivers, watersheds, and bays offering both recreational and commercial opportunities. Multiple shellfish farms and shellfish operations utilize the intertidal lands within the Samish and Skagit Bays, and are an extension of terrestrial North Puget Sound agriculture. Western Washington Agricultural Association advocates for programs designed to protect these unique and important attributes and works on behalf of all agricultural landowners to incentivize and recognize landowners for their environmental contributions and voluntary stewardship.
To represent agriculture by providing services for the entire agricultural community ~
Commitment To Our Members
- Engage in internal and external pressures on agriculture
Economic – Environmental – Regulatory
- Interact with county, state and federal legislators and regulators
- Pest and nutrient management and control
- Network with and support of the agricultural research community
- Seek out and develop opportunities and technologies for agriculture
- Continue historic role of negotiating processed vegetable prices
Although our primary function is to provide services to the agricultural community, this support comes in a variety of capacities. Much of our historic role in the region has long since changed with the exit of locally grown and processed vegetables. Although WWAA continues to commit time towards vegetable and other crop research, economics, and marketing, we respond to the most current needs of agriculture to direct our focus. Therefore, with a multitude of environmental and political pressures affecting farming, we have dramatically shifted in our role to serve our members.
WWAA Board of Directors~
To ensure our organization continues to address current needs of agricultural landowners and businesses, we are governed by a diversely organized board of director’s. These Directors advise and monitor business operations to ensure the products we deliver meet the needs of the greater agricultural community. The following individuals currently and dutifully serve as WWAA’s Board of Directors:
Lyle Wesen, Annie Lohman, Brad Smith, Jeff Boon, Bob Hughes, Steve Sakuma, Jon VanderKooy
WWAA is a 501(C)5 Non-Profit Organization and upon request a 990 tax document will be provided.