Sunday April 22nd is Earth Day.
Farmers, ranchers & foresters celebrate Earth Day every day or else we lose our way of life.
Sunday April 22nd is Earth Day.
Farmers, ranchers & foresters celebrate Earth Day every day or else we lose our way of life.
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.
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.
I just returned from a very exhausting but very fulfilling, blessed week. I started off the week in Nashville hanging out with people I aspire to be like and finished of the week with a best friend’s wedding! Life does not get much more awesome than that!
I was in Nashville to attend the AgVocacy 2.0 conference put on by the Agchat Foundation. The general purpose of the foundation and conference was to help the attendees communicate our farming, ranching or forestry story more effectively through social media. A continual theme and conversation topic was how to do we go beyond the choir. All the attendees do an amazing job interacting with each other, in fact I know I left with a couple more best friends. But how do we truly breach our comfort zone get to the audience that we don’t have a lot in common with?
My friend Katie Pinke (Blog, Twitter) was a presenter on Basic Blogging and she absolutely rocks at going beyond the choir. Well she just plain rocks in general too! After her presentation she rewarded people with North Dakota honey for asking questions and then told us to blog about the honey. I could easily write about all the crops in Oregon that require bees for pollination and hence there are many crop/flavors/varieties of honey in Oregon, but I thought I would take the honey to a deeper meaning.
I believe Ben Franklin once said, “Tart words make no friends; a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.” If we want to effectively reach our targeted audience we must make friends or acquaintances and then the conversation will come easier.
I by no means am an expert at this, however lately I have been thinking about scenarios in my head and how I would address a subject if it came up. I also knew I would most likely have a few engaging conversation opportunities come up at the end of the week since my friend was getting married in Portlandia. (Watch this clip if you have not seen it, very accurate portrayal.)
While I had a few great conversations about farming, ag, natural resources and social media at the end of the week one moment stuck out in particular.
While I was getting my hair done Friday morning the hairdresser and I through normal conversations started talking about life. We talked about jobs and that I worked in agriculture; she thought that was neat. She told me was reading up on the wolf controversy in NE Oregon and she understood both sides and thought there could be a solution in the middle. I didn’t say much, she seemed to be open-minded. I ask her why she moved from the East Coast to Portland and she explains it’s because they fell in love with how progressive it is. I bite my tongue because well that could be a can of worms. She needed a pen to write something down so I grab one out of my purse. It’s a Monsanto pen. I strategically hand it to her. She comes back 5 mins later and asks if I work for Monsanto in a kind of fearful expression. I say, “No but I know people who do and I toured their facility in St. Louis last year.” She says, “That just kind of scares me all the weird stuff they do that’s not natural.” I say, “Oh I think it’s neat. They are just helping plants along to where they would get to eventually. It’s just basic genetics and breeding.” She says, “Oh, ok interesting.” End of conversation.
While I have no idea if I changed her mind I can at least hope that I unlocked something in her that makes her think differently on GMOs now. Maybe that’s the first step to going beyond the choir by planting simple seeds of truth.
Every 10 years, after the US Census, legislative and congressional districts are revisited and redrawn. In Oregon there is a statute that outlines the criteria that is to be considered when the districts are redrawn. The law and the constitution outline the criteria as follows:
(1) Each district, as nearly as practicable, shall:
(a) Be contiguous;
(b) Be of equal population;
(c) Utilize existing geographic or political boundaries;
(d) Not divide communities of common interest; and
(e) Be connected by transportation links.
(2) No district shall be drawn for the purpose of favoring any political party, incumbent legislator or other person.
(3) No district shall be drawn for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of any language or ethnic minority group.
(4) Two state House of Representative districts shall be wholly included within a single state senatorial district.
Reading the above it would seem that redrawing legislative districts would be self-explanatory. However in Oregon and many other states redistricting has been a quite tumultuous issue. In fact for the last 5 decades the legislative districts have been drawn by Oregon’s Secretary of State because either an agreement wasn’t reached or it was challenged in court and overturned. The issue of Gerrymandering is at the root of the legislative districts controversy. Which I have no doubt happens and I honestly think that’s how a large part of rural Western Oregon ended up with urban South Eugene.
The urban/rural divide is something I want the legislators to be honest with themselves about.
I attended a redistricting hearing two Saturdays ago. Now, I was unprepared and didn’t expect myself to testify thinking that this issue seemed like common sense particularly after I read the committee’s handout. However, I found quite the opposite in the room. There were people testifying that had no experience farming or making living on the land in Rural Oregon saying “It shouldn’t matter how the districts were drawn and they should have a say in how my farm was run.”
While I applaud the urban citizens for wanting to know what happens on the farm; we are not communities of common interest. Like it or not there is an urban/rural divide. Our paychecks don’t necessarily come every two weeks in rural areas and the paychecks can easily vary depending on weather, yield and price. The majority of the rural population’s livelihood depends on the land and we do not have another job besides the land. To have a district that is split between urban and rural with a legislator who may or may not understand it, is a sure way for bad legislation to get passed that hinders rural economic efficiency.
We need a legislator who is going to represent the best interest of our rural community’s economy. An urban legislator is not going to fully understand the impacts of particular bills or laws on our jobs of managing the land, particularly when he or she has urban constituents to please also. Just like rural constituents or a rural legislator may not fully understand an urban issue such as the value of public transit or a bike lane.
If the Oregon House & Senate Redistricting Committees really want to come up with a plan that works, look to keep economies of common interest together. Economies create communities of common interest.
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!