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600+ Ag & biz groups push immigration reform

February 28, 2014 --

By American Farm Bureau Federationfarm-bureua-usa

The American Farm Bureau Federation, as part of a multi-industry coalition of 636 business organizations – 154 of them agriculture-related – today urged Congress to move forward with immigration reform this year.

In a letter sent to House Republican leadership, the coalition noted that all of the signatories are “united in the belief that we can and must do better for our economy and country by modernizing our immigration system.” Further, “Done properly, reform will deter illegal immigration, protect and complement our U.S. workforce, better respond to changing economic and demographic needs, and generate greater productivity and economic activity, while respecting family unity.”

Read the full article and discuss it »

Good-bad Ag bills of 2014 Legislature

February 27, 2014 --

Oregon-Farm-BureauOregon Farm Bureau

OFB Legislative Bill Update

The list below represents the bills still alive that Oregon Farm Bureau is monitoring.

Support

HB 4093:
Creates public record exemption for written agreements relating to conservation of wild birds entered into voluntarily by owners or occupiers of land with soil and water conservation district.

STATUS: Alive; scheduled for a work session in the Senate Committee on General Government, Consumer and Small Business Protection.

Read the full article and discuss it »

House bill to help farmers

--

mclane-mikeBy State Representative Mike McLane

OREGON HOUSE PASSES BILL GIVING AGRICULTURE GREATER CERTAINTY IN SEED AND CROP LAWS

The Oregon House of Representatives passed SB 863, the Certainty for Family Farmers of Oregon Act, in an effort to provide Oregon’s farm economy greater certainty regarding seed and crop regulations. The bill requires an Oregon policy related to seeds and crops be implemented statewide and prohibits such regulation at the county or city level.

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HB 4101: Oregon’s Timber tax

February 26, 2014 --

capitol-bestHB 4101: Oregon’s Timber tax 
By Oregon Tax News

The current Legislative Session features a bill (Hb 4101) that seeks to punish victims of previous environmental policies problems with additional taxes.  HB 4101 creates a severance tax on timber production that would go to fund county government as well as distribute back to timber mills who paid the tax through a tax credit for milling logs.   The HB 4101 tax is a severance tax on  Oregon timber at a rate of $15 per thousand feet, board measure.

Over the past 30 years, environmentalists have aggressively pushed policies that have essentially shut down the use of Oregon’s forestlands for logging. While small amounts of timber still are harvested on private lands, logging on federal and state-owned lands in Oregon has virtually ended. Not surprisingly, these policies have led to epic unemployment in Oregon’s rural communities, where logging and other timber-related jobs were the mainstays of healthy local economies. Double-digit unemployment is common in formerly timber-dependent counties in Oregon, and even this doesn’t account for everyone who has lost a job and has given up looking.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Oregon Ag bills update

February 24, 2014 --

OFS Legislative Report
Oregonians for Food and Shelter

Legislature Hits First “Cutoff” of Session

While it may seem like we just started the 2014 Legislative Session, the first legislative cutoff came on Thursday. February 13 was the deadline for bills to be moved from their house of origin committee. For example that means that a bill assigned to the House Committee on Agriculture & Natural Resources must have been voted out of that committee by the end of the day yesterday, or it is effectively dead for the 2014 Session. The purpose of the cutoffs is to make sure the focus stays on the bills that actually have a chance of passing. There is a notable exception to the cutoff calendar– bills assigned to the Rules, or Ways & Means Committees are not subject to these legislative deadlines and remain alive until Sine Die. Since the legislature only meets for 35 days in even numbered years, you can expect the cutoffs to continue to come very quickly.

This first legislative deadline is where a majority of bills die in any given session. It gives us the opportunity to cross many items off of our list and begin to focus on the legislation that stands a chance of passing. This year for OFS it means that we are able to cross a couple of bills of concern off of our list but also know what challenges we face ahead. The next week will be focused on floor sessions, where measures are placed before the entire legislative body (House or Senate) for a vote. There will be virtually no committee hearings and our focus will be talking to legislators and counting votes. Here is how the OFS bills of interest have fared so far…

Read the full article and discuss it »

Senate moves crop donation tax credit

February 19, 2014 --

Senate approves crop donation creditthomsen-chuck
By Senator Chuck Thomsen

A bill allowing food banks and farmers to put more food on kitchen tables was unanimously approved on Friday. Senate Bill 1541, containing a crop donation tax credit, is part of the Senate Republican Legislative Agenda, and now heads to the House of Representatives for approval.

“This bill is about helping people help people,” said Senator Chuck Thomsen (R -Hood River), the drafter and chief sponsor of the bill. “A lot of the world’s best food is grown here. With the quantity and quality of crops in Oregon, there is no reason anyone should be going to bed hungry.”

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Our forests & communties are dying from neglect

February 17, 2014 --

esquivel-salBy State Representative Sal Esquivel

When I returned to Oregon in 1970 after serving in the Vietnam War, I would spend my evenings pulling green chain at a lumber mill and earning $3.74 per hour in the process.

That might not sound like much, but if you adjust it for inflation, it would be around $22.50 in today’s dollars.

In my early thirties I landed a job as the general manager at a wood products company.

With those kinds of wages workers could truly live the American Dream. They were able to buy a house and car, could afford to support a family and eventually send their children off to college. Those kinds of jobs helped build our middle class.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Congress pressed for farming privacy

February 14, 2014 --

 

By American Farm Bureau Federationfarm-bureua-usa

One of the most important issues related to “big data” goes directly to property rights and who owns and controls farm-level data that may be collected, the American Farm Bureau Federation told Congress today. Risks to privacy that farmers face are of great concern, according to Farm Bureau.

“For years, farmers have used technology advances to better match varieties of seeds, production inputs and management practices with specific field characteristics,” said Brian Marshall, a farmer and Missouri Farm Bureau member testifying to the House Small Business Committee on behalf of AFBF. Further, noted Marshall, “While farmers have been experimenting for well over a decade, only now is the industry starting to consider all the uses of this transformative technology.”

Read the full article and discuss it »

Data shows Oregon losing its farmland

February 12, 2014 --

By Oregon Department of Agriculture,

New statistics indicate land use laws have helped, but prime ag land still at risk

The loss of farmland in Oregon to development and other uses continues, but at a much reduced rate, according to the latest numbers from an inventory of land uses conducted statewide and nationally. While still a concern to agriculture, state officials credit Oregon’s land use laws for minimizing the inexorable reduction of crop, pasture, and range lands.

“Agricultural land can’t be viewed as an idle resource waiting to be converted to homes, office buildings, retail outlets, or other types of development,” says Katy Coba, director of the Oregon Department of Agriculture. “Agriculture’s survival and sustainability depends, in large part, on protecting important farmland needed for production.”

Between 2007 and 2010, the inventory indicates 59,300 acres of crop land was converted to other land uses, including urban and rural development. That’s a loss of 1.66 percent of Oregon’s 3.5 million acres of crop land. However, that is a huge improvement over the 394,000 acres of crop land lost between 1982 and 1987.

Read the full article and discuss it »

Hundreds of small farmers to gather at OSU event

February 10, 2014 --

Oregon State Extension Service

Rows of vegetables grow at a farm in Medford. (Photo by Stephen Ward)(Photo by Stephen Ward)

Hundreds of farmers from throughout Oregon will gather in Corvallis this winter to improve their skills and get inspired for the next growing season. The 14th annual Oregon Small Farms Conference will take place Feb. 22 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Oregon State University.

Michael Ableman, a nationally known farmer, author and photographer, will present the keynote address. For the first time, organizers are offering a special series of workshops in Spanish for Latino farmers. In the past the conference has provided translators for particular workshops already offered in English. Also new is a workshop on profitability for small farms.

Registration costs $45 per person until Feb. 2, then increases to $65 per person from Feb. 3-14 and $100 per person on the day of the conference – if space is still available. Organizers will cap attendance at 800 people. In the past, the popular conference has surpassed 800 attendees, said Garry Stephenson, the coordinator of OSU’s Small Farms Program, which organizes the event.

Read the full article and discuss it »
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