Debates are annoying. The questions are usually “softballs” that candidates answer with their most gushy responses in hopes of garnering a vote.
The last debate on foreign policy really grinded on me. Mostly because candidates touched only on the Middle East and China, avoided discussing the Libya debacle and turned the discussion any time possible to the domestic policy. I think Obama even mentioned “Women’s issues” once.
What about the countries where insane terrorists or communists don’t live but hungry people do?
The world’s population is quickly reaching 9 billion. Does the United States play a role or have responsibility to feed the growing population? Based on Obama’s boasting during the debate about increased US exports, I am inclined to believe he thinks we do.
If it’s part of our foreign policy to help feed the world how do politicians plan to address issues facing the American farmer?
While I am aware that Congress makes the laws, the President of these United States has been given the power to appoint cabinet members and leaders. Groups like the Department of Agriculture, Labor and the EPA have been given the power to interpret the rules. They control the areas and situations the law cover and to what extent they will be implemented.
However, it might be a taboo for a politician to actually talk in specifics.
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…”
When I was in 5th grade there was a bully who pulled my hair every day in the line after recess. Since the administrators weren’t doing anything about it my dad told me I needed to handle it myself. He said, “Marie, next time she pulls your hair turn around and slug her.” So the next time she pulled my hair I turned around, hit her and called her a word that means female dog. The unfortunate part was that I did it in front of a duty teacher so I got a half day of detention and I wasn’t supposed to say naughty words so I got my mouth washed out with soap. But she never bullied me again. Problem solved.
I thought by the time I was 26 I would be done dealing with bullies, that was one of the perks of being an adult. But I was terribly wrong. In fact the bullies are worse now because it’s frowned upon to punch them. They spread misconceptions lacking sound science through main stream media and then use ill-formed policy based in fear to get their way.
Just last week Chipotle broadcasted their inaccurate perception of a modern-day “conventional” hog farm during the Grammy’s. Then the same week McDonald’s gave into pressure from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to quit purchasing pork products from farms that use gestation crates.
Bullying is happening in Oregon. Thirty-five miles away from my home a group of anti-chemical zealots are attacking small woodland owners over their right to use chemicals on their trees. They are making malicious claims that they are being poisoned to the verge of sickness by Atrazine & 2, 4D. When results of urine analysis came back it was determined that there was no Atrazine in their system & the levels of 2, 4D were NO higher than the average US citizen, which are insignificant in the terms of toxicity. Of course any chemical is lethal at high doses including Sodium Chloride aka salt.
I recently read an op-ed about the Chipotle ad by one of my favorite agvocates & writers Blake Hurst then read an another blog piece criticizing him. He responded with “And I am damn tired of being treated like public enemy number one in the New York Times.”
Amen Blake. I am tired of being bullied by a handful organizations who lack sound scientific theories and want to use precautionary principles to create policy & regulations.
There’s one way to stop it. With EVERY farmer, rancher & forester telling their story as much as possible. I don’t care if you use tweet it, facebook it, blog it, email it, pen write it or speak it, just please tell your story and why you do what you do every day.
Like it or not there are people who want to eradicate us but we can end the bullying with verbal punches full of science based logic, reasoning and common sense.
I am a minority, not because I am women or a proud card-carrying member of the Cherokee nation.
I am a farmer. Less than 2% of the US population have my livelihood.
That’s less than the population of Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian Americans and Caucasian Americans
If I remember correctly from my history classes many laws were passed to give equal rights to at least 3 out of the 4 groups mentioned above.
What is so wrong with laws passing to protect people of a minority group who’s end product eventually feeds the world?
In 1993, the Oregon legislature understood that there was a rural & urban divide. Oregon’s agriculturally rich Willamette Valley is in the midst of metropolitan Oregon. Tthey needed to do something to protect farmers, ranchers & foresters rights that are “a generally accepted, reasonable and prudent methods,” because more urban folks were moving into the countryside and they wouldn’t necessarily understand the natural practices of the area. This is why they passed Oregon’s Right to Farm and Forest Act.
This law protects me from radical groups who see my natural & generally accepted practices as a nuisance and wish to end it. Many of these same groups claim to love farmers & farming, however they typically advocate for one way of farming only. Which usually limits others’ choices. What is fair about that? At least Oregon’s law protects them too. I believe that’s equality.
Our economy is struggling enough and our world population is growing. To limit any modern or progressive agriculture is a shame and should be frowned upon. Agriculture as a whole, not just limited to production ag, is vital to the United States economy, independent in food & fuel production. In Oregon, agriculture accounts for 15% of all economic activity, and in 2009 is credited with adding more than $22 billion to Oregon’s net state product.
My ultimate question in life is “Why can’t we farm & let farm?” Why can’t some of us continue to ethically progress in agriculture as the environment and economics see fit, while others prefer to stay in 1915? There’s room for all of us. As a whole we are already a minority.
Filed under Agriculture, Conventional, Economy, Environment, Farming, Forestry, Green Agenda, Livelihood, Oregon, Organic, Rural
In today’s society consumers are bombarded with Organic Propaganda. The Organic Food Movement, who doesn’t really care what your family eats, has done a great job of marketing organic food, mostly with scare tactics. It often times aligns itself with campaigns that create the illusion that it is healthier or safer for you, which is simply false.
Four of these choices are either associated with a health condition or simply a better way to eat...organic does not fall into those categories.
Organic food is no more nutritious for you than conventionally produced food. In 2009, the UK’s Food Standard Agency commissioned a comprehensive review of articles and studies over the last 50 years comparing Organic and Conventionally produced food. The conclusion found that there was no significant if any nutritional differences in the products and no additional health benefits from eating organic food. Most people can agree with this because using common sense and some basic science one realizes that for example an apple is apple…you cannot alter the molecules that make an apple by using a different method of production.
A misconception that is often associated with Organic is that they do not use pesticides. News Flash: They DO use pesticides. Some pesticides used are the same ones used in conventional methods and others are not. The difference in pesticides is whether they are synthetically produced or naturally occurring, not whether its safer or not. A pesticide is meant to get rid a pest that is doing harm and are only used when necessary in any type of farming. However Organic pesticide usage is not recorded or regulated by the government like conventional usage is.
Leaders in the Organic Food Movement acknowledge that pesticides are used when asked. However they often to tote that Organic food has less pesticide residue. Every year the Environmental Working Group publishes an article telling the public which produce contains the most pesticide residue also known as The Dirty Dozen. However they are not very upfront about their methods nor do they explain how pesticide residues are measured on food. Residues are measured with the chronic reference dose, which is established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), meaning the acceptable level intake one can have without having effects throughout their lifetime. A study recently published in April in the Journal of Toxicology finds that “dirtiest” produce had levels of pesticides 1,000 times lower than the chronic reference dose. That means it is very safe to eat.
If Organic food has no additional nutritional benefit and is no more safe to eat than conventional then the cultivation methods must be better for the environment. Again a misconception with advances such as No-till, GPS, and advanced breeding techniques conventional agriculture overall impact, some argue, is less than organic methods. Often times organic methods require more tillage, more applications of chemicals and sometimes more land.
Diversity is what makes the agriculture world go around. Organic has a place in the world. However it is no more superior than any other method of farming. The Organic Food Movement has marketed it as such because that’s what marketing is. Convincing consumers that one product is better than the other. All to increase profits, which is ironic for a movement that’s roots are based in Socialism…but I’ll save that post for another time. I applaud them for wanting to make more money. All consumers have freedom of choice and we must all choose what is best for our families and pocketbooks not because someone scared you into it.
I just returned from the American AgriWomen (AAW) Mid-Year meeting in Phoenix, AZ. We spent two full days listening to speakers and developing our policy positions to take them back to Washington D.C. for our annual Fly-In. This was my first Mid-Year meeting but not my first AAW event. Every time I am with these amazing ladies I am inspired keep on advocating for agriculture. Being surrounded with people of like mind and the same goals re-affirms the actions I’m taking to “AgVocate.”
However, probably what I enjoy the most at AAW events is the diversity of agriculture that is brought together. I’ll be honest, I know very little about corn and soybeans but what I do know about is seed crops. That’s probably why I am AAW’s seed crops chair. So gathering with these ladies makes for a great exchange of knowledge and issues facing agriculture in the different regions of the country. We can learn and develop ideas together!
Women in Timber (WIT), an affiliate of AAW, had a large presence at the meeting. WIT is an organization that serves a similar purpose and mission as AAW so it only makes sense that we team together and for the first time WIT and AAW will be in DC together for Fly-In. For multiple reasons I am personally so excited to see WIT and AAW working together.
1) I love the timber industry. I have spent some time working with people in forestry. From my experience they are well-rounded when it comes to the impact of natural resource policy and legislation. They are aware that just because a piece of legislation or policy doesn’t specify their product or industry that can easily change and be detrimental to ALL natural resources. A perfect example of this was during the 2009 Oregon Legislative session and field burning hearings were going on. While the purpose of the bill was to eliminate grass field burning and only specified certain counties, the timber industry testified on the farmers behalf. Knowing all well that they could extend the reach of the bill and easily slip something in that could pertain to slash burning.
2) We can learn from the timber industry. It’s my opinion that we, that natural resource community, got behind the environmental movement because we didn’t feel the need to tell our story. Foresters, farmers and ranchers felt the food on their table, the clothes on their back and the roof over their head told our story for us. This lesson can easily be seen from the economic devastation that the spotted owl did to the timber industry. I’m not saying they didn’t work to fight the “green agenda” when the spotted owl issue arose but at that point the “Green” PR campaign was far ahead. However, we are aware of this now and any time we forget why we’re “AgVocating” it’s easy to look back and see where not telling our story got us.
3) It is VITAL we stick together. I know we all have our separate challenges in our relative industries, but if we are not unified we are more likely to be “picked” off one by one. Our end goal is the same, to keep our natural resource industries vital and relevant in the United States. They are our livelihoods and the green agenda is set out to destroy that.
I am already looking forward to the next time I can get together with the women of WIT and AAW. I know we will be able to accomplish amazing things together, as we already do great things!