Ag fees may rise, update on wolf symposium

By Jim Welsh,
Oregon Cattlemen Association

Agency Budgets: More Fee Increases
The natural resource agencies have been holding stakeholder meetings involving their budgets addressing the anticipated General Fund shortfall due to the continuing recession.  The Governor instructed the agencies to prepare budgets with present biennium reductions continuing and budgets with reductions of up to 25%.  As of May 25th he has requested a 9% across the board reduction for all agencies to relieve the burden on the remaining biennium.

The deliberations are once again involving recommendations, by agencies, for General Fund revenue to be replaced with fee increases. 
OCA has made the point that a number of the programs that cattle producers participate in are required by law and rule, and were developed for public purposes and should therefore be funded by the General Fund, not fees assessed the producers.  OCA has suggested along with others there should be reduction or elimination of non-essential budget items and administration to help reduce the agency budgets without the assessment of more and higher fees.

•    The OCA and Eastern Oregon University Range Club hosted a Wolf Symposium May 22, in La Grande. The Symposium was aptly scheduled with May being a bad month for wolf predation in eastern Oregon.  The keynote speakers were Jim Beers and Casey Anderson who provided more information about what to expect as the wolves grow in population and move across the state.
•    OCA attended the Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) Board meeting at Seven Feathers Casino Saturday May 15th to discuss a common approach to dealing with wolf predation in Oregon.  There was heightened interest from OHA board members and a commitment to work together in the future.
•    OCA is preparing their recommendations, for the Fish & Wildlife Commission, on the five year review of the Wolf Conservation Plan.  The OCA Wolf Committee will have some very significant recommendations now that they have experienced wolf predation and Wolf  Plan implementation first hand.
•    It is becoming obvious to cattle producers and others that the Oregon Wolf Conservation Plan is woefully inadequate for protecting the producer.  As predicted five years ago by OCA the “Wolf Plan Minority Report” was the document needed to help protect the livestock producers in Oregon.

Water Study
The IWRS (Integrated Water Resources Study) process includes another statewide meeting scheduled for Burns on May 25th.  OCA is presently working with Water for Life addressing the Oregon Water Resource Department process as directed by the Legislature for HB 3369.  The process raises many questions as to the eventual outcome of the exercise.  The water of the state and their beneficial uses are important to all of us and any changes can put at risk those uses necessary for agriculture, or any other beneficial uses on the list.  If in-stream uses become over prioritized we are in trouble.  Most everyone watching the IWRS process are concerned about outcomes and the precarious balance that we have been able to maintain for years in Oregon concerning beneficial uses.

For example, the EFTAG (Ecological Flow Technical Advisory Group) within the IWRS and charged with defining “Peak and Ecological Flow” is made up of individuals who have no connection to water delivery, water management, irrigation districts, or more importantly agricultural interests.  So, you see the concern with the outcomes of the IWRS process.

Pesticides (P3) and Water
DEQ and the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission (OEQC) developed a parallel process addressing point source pollution and non-point pollution with their eye on the P3 list of pollutants identified and published in 2009 as directed by SB 737 of 2007.  OCA is very concerned with the direction OEQC Chair Blossor has taken by indicating he wants to regulate non-point source land owners more in respect to a list of chemicals on the P3 list.  Some of the chemicals on the list have been reported to show up in fish.  The OEQC is concerned that a certain population eats 22 meals of fish pre month.  So, they would like to resolve this problem by restricting the use of certain chemicals.  The Ag and Natural Resource Coalition is preparing a response and further action as OEQC has prepared rules changes affecting Water Quality Management and the 1010 process.

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