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Minimum wage stays as is for 2010

September 21, 2009 --

By Oregon Association of Nurseries,

Nurseries have many issues to be concerned with in this economy, but a higher minimum wage will not be one of them – at least, not this year. Oregon Secretary of Labor Brad Avakian announced that the Oregon minimum wage will remain at $8.40 an hour for 2010. By law, the wage automatically goes up every year based on inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index. However, the index this year actually decreased by 1.5 percent. Despite this deflation, the law does not allow for the minimum wage to go down, so it will remain where it is. Many growers say that while they pay workers considerably more than minimum wage, the benchmark has a direct effect on what the labor market will bear.

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Free Trade Agreements Would Boost Ag Economy

September 20, 2009 --

By American Farm Bureau

WASHINGTON, D.C.,  – Citing the vital importance of trade to U.S. agriculture, the American Farm Bureau is urging the Obama administration to submit the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) and the U.S.-Korean Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) to Congress for a vote.In separate comments sent this week to the U.S. Trade Representative, AFBF said the trade pacts allow the United States to become a competitive supplier of agricultural products to Colombia and Korea. AFBF urged the administration “to not delay” in submitting the implementing legislation and called on Congress to pass the agreements. Though comments were not requested on the U.S.-Panama free trade agreement, AFBF urges congressional passage of that pact as well.

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Chart: Organic growth by food group

Invasive Alert: Drosphilia threatens Oregon fruit crops!

September 18, 2009 --

By Oregonians for Food and Shelter,

The spotted wing Drosophila (often named “Dragon Fruit Fly”) has invaded Oregon from California and has already been confirmed in several Oregon fruit crops – blueberries, caneberries and grapes. Stuart Olson, a local peach, apple and cherry grower, believes this could literally shut down fresh fruit sales from Oregon.  Unlike the vinegar fruit fly that takes to rotted fruit, this critter infects ripening fruit and is visible in the fruit as a small maggot.

OFS has discussed with ODA and they are stepping up discussions with OSU to learn more about the Dragon Fruit Fly and how we might deal with it in Oregon.   ODA has set up an informational meeting at the State Fairgrounds for next Tuesday.    All fruit growers across the state need to be informed and monitoring for this invader.  Please spread the word.

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Buying local firewood protects Oregon forestry and ag

September 17, 2009 --

By Oregon Department of Agriculture,

Buy local has a whole new meaning when it comes to protecting Oregon from invasive species this fall and winter. Consumers are urged not to purchase firewood from out-of-state and all the insects and diseases it might carry. Instead, buying local firewood can help keep invasive species from gaining a foothold in the Oregon environment.

“Firewood is becoming a major pathway for moving invasive species, and that’s not a good thing,” says Dan Hilburn, administrator of the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Plant Division and member of the Oregon Invasive Species Council. “The take home message to Oregonians is to buy their firewood locally and burn it locally.”

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WOPR Withdrawal Challenged

September 16, 2009 --

American Forest Research Council,
AFRC NEWS, September 11, 2009

On September 8, a legal challenge to the Obama Administration’s decision not to implement the BLM’s Western Oregon Plan Revisions (WOPR) was filed by the Douglas Timber Operators, the Carpenters Industrial Council and AFRC members, C&D Lumber, Seneca Jones Timber, and Swanson Group Manufacturing, in federal district court in Washington, D.C. The action challenges Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s July 16 decision to “withdraw” the WOPR.

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Obama releases Salmon plan

September 15, 2009 --

NOAA Strengthens 2008 Columbia River Salmon Protection Strategy
Plan based on sound science; strengthened contingency plan added as insurance for salmon
By NOAA,

Backed by sound science, strong stakeholder support and extensive outreach, the federal government today filed with a United States district court a strengthened plan to implement NOAA’s 2008 biological opinion governing operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System. The plan bolsters protection for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the Pacific Northwest by adding contingency measures that provide extra insurance that the fish will survive with an adequate potential for recovery.

Thirteen populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin are listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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Oregon may see increased logging

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State seeks to change forest plans
By Oregon Natural Resource Report,

More logging in state forests is on the way if proposed changes to two forest management plans are approved.  The Oregon State Board of Forestry decided recently to begin the public process to revise habitat goals for state forests which, if approved, would allow for more timber harvest.  The process will start with public hearings and a comment period, following which the board will act on the revisions.

At its recent meeting the board approved draft language changes to two forest management plans, the first step necessary to change the plans.

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Oregon organic farming grows rapidly

September 14, 2009 --

A trip to the grocery store, simple enough, but now there is a choice to be made, organic or non-organic products? What does organic really mean?  Whatever it means, organic farming has been one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture in the last decade and Oregon is no exception.

According to a study conducted by Washington State University and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic in 2008 farm acreage in Oregon certified as organic has increased over six fold between 1999 and 2008.  Between 2005 and 2008 certified acreage grew 39 percent.  The acreage category with the biggest gain is in the forage category as dairy farms increasingly seek to have their products classified as organic.

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Farmers press for estate tax rate change

September 13, 2009 --

American Farm Bureau Federation: Set for repeal for 2010, the estate tax will return in full force in 2011—unless reform-minded lawmakers such as Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) are able to push through a higher, inflation-adjusted exemption and a lower top rate. Under current law, the maximum estate tax rate is 45 percent, with a $3.5 million exemption. In 2011, following a oneyear estate tax repeal in 2010, the estate tax returns to its 2002 levels with an exemption of $1 million and a top tax rate of 55 percent. With enough lawmakers opposed to the 2010 repeal, action on estate taxes is very likely this fall. A handful of estate tax bills have already been introduced, with proposals ranging from a $2 million exemption and 55 percent top rate to full repeal.

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