Last week my dad and I traveled to downtown Portland in the middle of rush hour to testify at an Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) hearing. The EQC oversees the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The hearing was to determine whether the EQC would consider a petition brought forth by the Northwest Environmental Advocates (NWEA) to put a rule for 1000 foot (aerial spray) & 500 foot (hand spray) pesticide buffer zones around salmon bearing waterways in Oregon. The NWEA’s request is based on severely flawed models; models that aren’t realistic to today’s farming.
Below is my testimony and comments that I submitted to the EQC.
The petition to put buffer zones around salmon bearing waterways has me truly concerned for my future.
Nine months ago I quit my well-paying job in the agricultural lending field and moved into a travel trailer by a sheep barn so I could return to my family’s century farm. My goal is to one day be as knowledgeable and successful as the 4 generations before me have been when it comes to caring for the land.
It is my understanding that salmon bearing waterways are ANY stream that holds water in the wintertime. First of all the idea that you want to regulate these streams seems slightly overwhelming and absurd. There are an innumerable amount of these so-called waterways in the Willamette Valley because it rains a lot here and water has to go somewhere. In a state with budget issues paying for a few people to map, count and monitor these streams seems pointless and a never-ending resultless task.
These rules would impact our farm tremendously. Every place we farm has multiple ditches surrounding it or flowing through it during the wintertime. This rule has the potential to eliminate half the ground we farm if not all. Five hundred feet may not seem like a lot but it quickly adds up. Example if you have a “stream” in your field that’s a half a mile long and you need at least a 500 foot buffer on each side that wipes out 60 acres of potential land for growing food and fiber.
Our family farm is not the exception to these so-called buffer zones. I think you will find that the majority of farmers in the valley also have similar waterways at their farms.
Commissioners, I ask that you reject the proposed petition & rule in order to protect the future generations of Oregon’s family farms and continue to promote local food and fiber.
My dad also gave a testimony where he described the group petitioning as the “Anti’s”, meaning they are anti-agriculture, anti-business and anti-people. He also explained the progressive technology we use on our farm that allows for microscopic accuracy.
The EQC will decide on the petition at their October meeting.
On a similar note, a 10 year study was recently completed on the McKenzie River, which runs through farms, forests and the city of Eugene. The results were positive. It found that the river was incredibly clean particularly around forestland and farmland. The highest concentration was actually in the urban areas. “But the amounts were tiny — less than six parts per quadrillion…”
- Northwest Environmental Advocates demands tighter Oregon rules on pesticide water pollution (oregonlive.com)