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…”
It snowed today. Snow is not a regular occurrence in Western Oregon paricularly the 2nd day of spring! Supposedly there’s more on the way too!
Notice the sagging electric fence in the background.
A snow covered wheat field!
I recently watched Washington State University’s new head football coach, Mike Leach
, give his opening press conference
. I was inspired for my Cougars and next fall when college football
begins. It’s been a rough few years as a Cougar fan but rough years make the great years that much sweeter.
One line from Coach Leach really caught my attention. “When people ask, “Why Washington State?” I think in the back of my mind, “Well that’s a stupid question.” Then I immediately blurt out the obvious; the commitment of excellence, excitement in the community, and you can win here and win big.”
I’ve been getting the same stupid question lately…ok not exactly the same but close enough. Ever since I started thinking about returning to the farm and now officially have returned people responses are very cynical, “Why would you want to return to the farm?” I have had people tell me I have so much more potential than that or they really thought I was on a career path with Farm Credit or they simply ask if I got fired. Friends and other farmers have been critical, which disappoints me because I know that farming is more than driving a tractor.
It’s hard to explain a passion or calling in words to people unless they share that passion. I often respond to skeptics with “I feel it’s where I need to be. Not many kids have the opportunity to return their family’s 4th generation farm as the 5th.” However from now on I think I am going to use Coach Leach’s response because at Bashaw Land & Seed we have a committment of excellence with some of the highest purities of grass seed you can find in the Willamette Valley. There is excitement in this community, when you live in a niche region that produces the majority of the world’s cool season grasses there is bound to be excitement surrounding new opportunities & markets. You are able to win here and win big, while it’s been a rough few years for grass seed farmers, hopefully the price will eventually come around and with the right marketing and soil combination the possibilities could be endless.
While Mike Leach had probably many opportunities to coach at larger more prestigious universities but he chose the Washington State Cougars. I am guessing Coach Leach and I have a few things in common; we like challenges, hard work and the rewards that come with that when we succeed.
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.
I’ve recently changed jobs. I resigned from my 8 to 5 job with Northwest Farm Credit Services and returned to my family’s business, farming.
Here’s a few photos of the recent change:
That was my view driving home, now this is my view:
I traded a company car for this:
I was living here:
Now I live here:
Maybe I am crazy but I am doing what I am passionate about and that makes my trailer a mansion!