Letter to the Editor: Small farms should be supported, not hindered, by county code



Dear friends, neighbors and county councilors Karen Dill Bowerman, Glen Yung, Michelle Belkot, Gary Medvigy and Sue Marshall:

As a small farmer in Clark County, I’m deeply invested in our community’s well-being. Our local small farms, the heart of our economy and rural charm, face a critical issue: the slow code amendment process for hosting farm weddings.

In Clark County, small farms are not just businesses; they are the lifeblood of our community. They provide fresh, locally grown produce, create jobs and maintain the scenic landscapes we all love. These farms, however, face significant financial challenges. Diversifying income through hosting weddings is not just a luxury; it’s a necessity for survival.

Currently, the bureaucratic inertia in updating the county codes to allow farmers to host weddings is not just stalling progress, it’s threatening the very existence of these small farms. While wineries enjoy fast-track permitting for weddings, small farms are left navigating a complex and slow process. This disparity is not just unfair, it undermines the spirit of equal opportunity enshrined in our U.S. Constitution.

Weddings on farms are not just events; they are a celebration of our agricultural heritage. They align perfectly with the county’s farm-stand rule 40.260.025, which supports agricultural stands and markets. These events are a form of agritourism that brings the community closer to its roots, educates about sustainable farming, and fosters a deeper appreciation for local produce.

Moreover, weddings on farms have proven to be a boon for the local economy. For every farm wedding, a cascade of economic activity follows — local florists, caterers, musicians and various service providers benefit. This ripple effect can’t be ignored. It’s a testament to how interconnected our community is and how supporting one aspect, like small farms, uplifts the entire area.

There’s an urgent need for fast-tracking farm wedding permits. Delays mean lost opportunities for struggling farmers. The existing system’s bias toward wineries contradicts fairness and equity. It’s imperative for our leaders to address this and level the playing field. This selective favor undermines the equal opportunity promised by our Constitution and creates an unfair advantage that does not reflect the inclusive spirit of our laws.

I call on community members and fellow farmers to actively engage with the county for change. We need a revised farm-stand code recognizing small farms’ multifaceted roles.

To those in opposition, I extend a heartfelt invitation to see firsthand the magic of a small farm and the positive impact it has on the community. It’s not just about revenue; it’s about celebrating our community’s agricultural heritage, supporting local businesses and creating memorable experiences for residents and visitors alike.

Our farms are more than just land and crops; they are a legacy we wish to preserve for future generations. Supporting this code change is not just about allowing weddings; it’s about ensuring the sustainability and prosperity of our small farms and, by extension, our community.

Mark Lopez

La Center