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…”
My favorite holiday, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. It is my favorite holiday because it doesn’t involve much materialism, if any. Every year I have a lot to be thankful for but this year I feel extra thankful particularly towards my family.
As some of you may be aware I recently changed jobs. I left my ag lending job and returned to the family farm. Relocating is not the easiest. However, my family has gone above and beyond help me out with my move & transition into my new trailer residence.
I am grateful to my parents who have a successful 4th generation farm that has allowed me to come back to join the family business. I am also VERY thankful for my mom’s kitchen. Grocery shopping has been extremely easy thanks to her aka I have not done any. :) My dad has been wonderful by having the electrician install an RV outlet to plug into at the sheep barn and providing & installing foam insulation panels around the bottom of my 5th to protect from cold weather.
I am grateful for my sister as a roommate for the past 2 1/2 years. Sitting in my trailer alone makes me appreciative for the company and conversation. I miss her.
My grandparents have been fantastic. I have decided that with one farmer grandpa and one plumber grandpa all of the world’s problems can be solved. Seriously, what other skill sets do you need? The farmer grandpa hauled my 5th over the mountain for me, helped dewinterize it and then stabilize it. Then my plumber grandpa hooked up a new pump and holding tank for the well. However we had some issues getting water so Sunday my farmer grandpa and I dug a trench to locate the well. The plumber grandpa came over and gave his expert opinion. Then all three of us dug another ditch to my trailer to bury pipe. On monday the plumber grandpa came over and connected the well and installed a yard hydrant next to my trailer. I now have a water source thanks to my grandpas!!
I have much to be thankful for and have much more than I deserve I am sure of it.
Thank you to everyone who reads this blog and supports me in all my endeavours! I am truly blessed to be surrounded by wonderful people in my family and the industry I love, agriculture.
My definition of ignorance: Good intentions mixed with a lack of common sense and often a result of lack of due diligence on a matter. I often use this word when it comes to the government’s regulations of Oregon‘s and the United States’ natural resources. Particularly when a government agency wants to facelift an act that needs little improvement…plain ignorance.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), wants to improve a system that is not broke and will disrupt the current way of efficient and effective pollution management of the state’s greatest natural resource: water.
Eighteen years ago the natural resource community, the environmentalists, the DEQ and the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) came to a consensus on how agricultural non-point pollution sources were regulated and managed. The Water Quality Management Act (AgWQMA) mandated that a landowner prevent and control water pollution from agricultural activities. The ODA, the decided regulatory agency of the act, with the help of 45 Soil and Water Conservation Districts developed plans and rules for 39 identified watersheds. Each watershed has a committee made up of local stockholders that oversaw rules and plans.
The watershed management structure outlined by the ODA works. It gives the locals control to adjust and apply best management practices for the area and for the watershed to prevent non-point source pollution. Oregon is a diverse state in terrain, weather and agriculture so what works for one area does not for another. That’s why the ODA’s AgWQMA structure works great because the management and plans are based local by the people who know the area the best.
No problems have arisen from the current system. However, the DEQ wants to amend the AgWQMA. They want to specify the definition of Best Management Practices for the state and have local watersheds conform to the state’s definition. How is it a best management if it’s not controlled at a specific local level? Also, they want to change how Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) are calculated. TMDLs are based of human fish consumption to measure water pollution. Currently, the TMDL is based on a consumption 6 grams of fish per day certain interest groups want to raise it to 175 grams per day. That’s 2 servings of fish per day 365 days per year! Ridiculous! Who eats that much fish?
I acknowledge that the AgWQMA and the DEQ’s proposed rules have a lot of layers. However, why change the AgWQMA? Oregon has some of the cleanest waters in the nation. Obviously something is going right. In my opinion, the DEQ is mad that the ODA, farmers, ranchers and foresters can successfully manage the environment without their help.
Just remember the road to hell is paved with good intentions or perhaps ignorance! :)