The Marin Agricultural Support Plan, developed by local agricultural leaders and partners based on input from last November’s Agricultural Summit, was presented to the Board of Supervisors Monday.
“I think that here what we have is a very clear direction of where we’re going,” said Supervisor Steve Kinsey following the overview. “And that’s really because we’ve found that by creating a prioritized plan—doing a few things well, [and] the most important things first—we can really make a difference.”
The plan aims to ensure the future viability of Marin’s strong agricultural heritage, in part by offering programs like apprenticeships and community education workshops. Other initiatives are forward-thinking efforts to promote financial sustainability amid what is generally considered a bleak landscape for small agriculture. For Marin, which in the last 15 years has witnessed a proliferation of organic farms and artisanal cheese production, this means a particular emphasis on local branding.
David Lewis, director of UCCE, was pleased with the supervisors’ reception of the presentation, although not particularly surprised. “I feel like we have new goals and objectives to pursue that come from the farming community, so I was glad that they embraced them. That was positive.”
One such objective is helping local ranchers and farmers navigate bureaucratic regulations, a side effect of West Marin’s long commitment to environmental conservation.
“When we ask the producer to do four different permits and deal with six different agencies depending on the environmental regulations, it just becomes this maze that’s overwhelming, to be quite honest,” Lewis said. “There are ways that we can simplify that.”
Rick Lafranchi, who started the Nicasio Valley Cheese Company in 2010, said the Board has been extremely supportive.
“By and large they would do anything they possibly could to help us, that’s my feeling,” Lafranchi said. “We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go. But the one great thing that we do have, and I think our strongest asset, is the fact that we are in West Marin.”