There is never any lack of challenges being a farmer and they never seem to take a break when farmers are busy in the field.
A few things have occurred in the last two months while I was on my harvest hiatus.
Some awesome news, the initiative to End Oregon’s Death Tax, that I wrote about here and here, made the November 2012 ballot! Finally Oregon has a chance to join 31 other states that have already abolished the State Estate Tax. This is huge news for family farms, forests, ranches & small business. However we still have to deal with the federal death tax which is set to return to pre-2001 levels, a million dollar exemption. Stay tuned for more information on this between now and November!
In August the Oregon Department of Agriculture opened “hundred of thousands” of acres for canola production in the Willamette Valley. Previously, many acres had been restricted until research was conducted by Oregon State University to determine the potential of interfering via cross-pollination/contamination with Oregon’s specialty seed industry, which include radish seed, cabbage seed, sugar beet seed plus more. The specialty seed growers are very concerned about the possibility of hurting their current markets.
Interesting enough anti-GMO groups took interest in this issue as well. The majority of canola produce in the United States is genetically modified to be able to resist certain herbicides and was deregulated by the federal government several years ago. The “Center for Food Safety“, “Friend of Family Farmers” and a few specialty seed companies filed a lawsuit together to block the potential production.
Here’s the thing, GMO is not the issue.
The issue is the potential of canola to cross pollinate or contaminate with other Brassica crops, such as radish or cabbage. There also is a concern for increased disease in the those crops. This situation is very unique, as two of the groups in the lawsuit prefer that GMOs be eliminated from Oregon while the other group, the specialty seed growers, utilize GMOs when available. They grow Round-up Ready Sugar Beet seeds.
The problem is that one group is anti-technology. They do not want ANY genetically modified crops in Oregon. End of Story. If they succeed in “banning” canola in Oregon they will see this as a win for getting biotechnology out of Oregon. It is potentially a very slippery ugly slope. I would hope that resolve can come between the Oregon Agriculture community that is divided on this issue. Farmers against farmers means no one wins.
Department of Labor
Our federal government in the past few years has abused their power.
Recently the United States Department of Labor came into Oregon blueberry patches and held their perishable crop hostage until farmers paid a fine. Instead of allowing the farms due process and a chance to prove their innocence they assumed guilt. The farms were forced to pay the fine, one being $170,000, so they could get their crops to market and get paid. They didn’t bother to give a courtesy call to Oregon’s Labor Commissioner or the Oregon Department of Agriculture Director. This is an example of government out of control.
Worth the Fight
I often question is being a farmer really worth the fight. Farmers, ranchers and foresters have many obstacles in their paths from unfair taxes, groups who seek to end their business and governments that abuse their power. However, I come to the same conclusion every time: It is worth it. It’s worth it because I know what we do is right and a life and legacy that I wouldn’t trade for many others.
I must thank my friend Dairy Carrie for helping this post to happen. She and I share similar taste in music and while I’ve been too tired to blog lately a group, Cody Canada and the Departed, who we both enjoy released a new single today, “Worth the Fight”. She challenged a few of us to write if what we do is really worth it. As you can see I clearly think it is.
A few of our friends do too: